"Let every man and woman count themselves immortal. Let them catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let them say not merely ‘Christ is risen’, but 'I shall rise'.’’
Today is the best day in the church’s year. It is, of course, the day when we sing and proclaim loudly that ‘Jesus Christ is risen’ and that ‘death has lost its sting.’ It’s the day when we are invited to believe again in the triumph of good over evil, love over hate, life over death. It’s the day that invites us to believe in and inhabit a new story; a better story. Easter day is the day which beckons us to live lives characterised by faith, hope and love, and what better virtues are there to live by?
Let’s firstly consider hope: I think it is fair to say that all of us, each and every one of us, sometimes feels a huge sense of despair; despair for ourselves and the world around us. Like Jesus we know that we humans are capable of doing appalling things, like Jesus we know that those we think of as friends, family and neighbours don’t always live up to their best intentions. We, again like Jesus, know that all can sometimes appear bleak.
As with Mary Magdalene we all experience the sense of loss and the burden of confusion, asking ourselves ‘how has it come to this?’ But, alongside Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning we too must allow ourselves to be surprised and hear the voice of love calling us by name; that voice that tells us that all is not as it seems. This Easter, can you hear the voice of Jesus calling you by name, gently beckoning you to enter into a different, better and more Godly story, a story animated and interpreted through faith, hope and love?
To hear Jesus calling you by name, to hear him beckoning you to step forward to allow yourselves to feed on him in your hearts with thanksgiving, by faith is to know that you are loved; loved in the here and now, and loved into all eternity, for the resurrection is an invitation to broaden our horizons and to believe in the eternal story. The resurrection invites us to believe in a story beyond ourselves and the limits of both our reasoning and our imagination. The resurrection brokers no limits. Through the resurrection Jesus calls us by name and offers us the hope that our own deaths aren’t sudden full stops, but small punctuation marks on the way to our eternal destiny.
But what of faith? Well faith is a virtue worked out in the here and now. Faith is the decision to live in the light of the resurrection. Faith takes shape when we, like Mary Magdalene, feel compelled to tell the Jesus story. Faith is made real and obvious to others when we live as Jesus would have us live, when we become the sort of people committed to bringing something of the Kingdom of God to ‘earth as in heaven.’
Over the next few weeks we are going to hear lots of accounts from the Acts of the Apostles testifying to what it looks like to live loving, hopeful, faith-shaped lives in the light of the resurrection. If we wish to, with integrity, affirm our belief in the ‘one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’ we need to take these accounts seriously, replicating them in the here and now.
Can I invite you this Easter morn to recommit to living your lives in the light of the resurrection, for if you do, you will play your part in telling the Jesus story just as Mary Magdalene did all those years ago. If we dare to live in the power and authority of the resurrection we will become agents of faith, hope and love; we will live up to our highest, noblest, most Godly calling, we will make a difference both in the here and now and for all time; we will, when our time comes, be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let us all this Easter morning "say not merely ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I (too) shall rise.’’