Easter Sermon 2023

In a few week’s time, something will happen that hasn’t happened before.

At 3 pm on the 23 April, all our mobile phones will be all a-tremble. They will begin to wail. The government is going to be testing a new emergency alert system. They have chosen the time carefully. The emergency alert is to be slipped in between people attending church and before the start of the English FA Cup Semi-Final.

Because, of course, emergencies are like that. Coming along with a few weeks’ notice and fitting themselves in between worship and a football match.

In some of the stories in the bible, the resurrection happens by stealth. There’s no great announcement. Just the dawning realisation that something momentous has happened. Mary Magdalene trips through the garden in the first light of the day and suddenly realises that it isn’t the gardener she is talking to. Or the couple on the road to Emmaus, who walk beside him for miles and then only later realise it is he, when bread is broken.

But today we read Matthew’s account of events. And it all happens with a bang and a crash. An earthquake and an angel who looked like lightning.
The news that something momentous is happening in Matthew’s gospel is unmistakable.

I have no doubt that in a congregation like our own there have been people who have been in emergency situations including in earthquakes. And I’m sure it is terrifying, for you are immediately at risk.

In Matthew’s telling of the tale, the world is utterly changed in a moment. An unexpected event has occurred. The one they had crucified is alive. And nothing will ever be the same again.

This isn’t a prearranged, expected event slipped in between church and the cup semi-final. This is something altogether unexpected. New. Shocking. And utterly without precedent.

Wonderful. Dramatic. Powerful. But not, I think without risk.

When all the phones start to tremble and begin to wail, they will be testing a system which warns of immediate risk of death.

The earthquake that we read of this morning warns of an immediate risk of life – new life in all its fullness.

The Christian faith promises new life for all who look to Jesus for salvation. But it promises more than that too. For we believe that by this Easter resurrection event, it isn’t just we who are changed. We believe the whole of creation is set a-trembling with new life. All the world is changed.
Resurrection joy is the new normal for a world that needs to be shaken with good news.

For goodness is real. (And people do know the difference between goodness and wickedness).

Truth is indivisible. (And people do know that “alternative facts” are better known as lies).

And New Life is our ultimate destiny. (And those who know oppression, despair and abuse can tell you exactly what New Life will look like).

There is work to be done before the New Life of Easter is known by everyone of course. But a world where every soul sings for joy is our hope and our expectation. It is the goal that those who work to establish God’s reign of justice and peace on earth strive for. It is our vision. It is our joy. It is our destiny.

And it is for all times and all places. Not slipped at a convenient time between morning and afternoon.

And there’s much to be done in all times and in all places for us to be able to see the new life of Christ.

We do not need to look too far for examples of the old way, the way of death.

In recent weeks, in between stirring up negativity towards transgender people and promoting economic policies that make foodbanks multiply, the government have chosen to slip in a culture war around the asylum system, using those arriving in small boats as ammunition in that culture war.

The policy of refusing to consider asylum for those arriving in such boats is reckless, heartless and lawless. It is wrong

For this country has legal obligations to deal with such people fairly. Reinstating a form of Transportation, to the other side of the world is neither fair, proportionate nor just.

The faith we believe in on this resurrection morning sees the hungry fed, the frightened stranger welcomed home and knows with a certainty that shines like lightning that God prefers the company of the most vulnerable to the most powerful.

The Easter news says to all who will listen, “The way of death is not inevitable.”

Death is not the ultimate end of the human story. Nor is it the inevitable end of any of our stories.

Not only is no human illegal, Christ’s resurrection means that no human is unloved.

And that changes everything.

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

And with him hope rises anew.

Hope for a world put right.

Hope for a world that is set a tremble with good news.

Hope for a world in which every soul can sing for joy.

This is good news for those who are devout and who give their time to prayer and good works and waiting on the Lord.

But it is even better news for those who are lost, sad, and sinful.

Each of us come to this day with our own griefs and losses, each carrying our own fear and apprehension.

But Christ is risen from the dead for the fearful just as much as for anyone else.

Christ is risen from the dead for the sorrowful just as much as for anyone else.

Christ is risen from the dead for you. Feast richly on the good news that death is destroyed and new life has come.

For Christ is risen from the dead for the whole world.

And that world is all a-tremble.

Good news is here.

For if Christ were not risen from the dead, we would not be gathered here. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


  1. Peggy Brewer says

    An inspiring Monday morning read (for me)! A reminder that Easter is never over! Easter people celebrate and remember!!

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