Sermons & Reflections

Easter sermon - A story of a violin

Apr 22, 2022

Happy Easter!  Let me tell you a story! Sorry it isn’t about bunnies or Easter eggs – it’s about a violin.

 

Many years ago, a colleague of my father’s was seconded to work in Kenya for a couple of years. His great hobby was playing the violin and he had an instrument of which he was very fond. He took it with him.

 

Going through Kenyan customs was long and complicated. Our friend expected to have to pay import duty. The official asked him to open the violin case, peered in and said, ‘Oh that’s old – it isn’t worth anything – on you go’. 

 

The customs officer had seen old and assumed worthless. It was old but it had developed a brilliant tone, and it was worth a great deal of money!

 

There are different ways of seeing things, and we value according to how we see.

 

So, let’s think about how those involved saw the events of Easter.

 

The second half of our gospel reading from John 20 is that beautiful account of Mary Magdalen meeting Jesus in the garden of the tomb. 

 

Except of course she doesn’t at first realise who it is she’s meeting. She thinks this is the gardener. And if he is the gardener, then he may well have some knowledge of what has happened to this body, a body which she values so highly, and over which she is so upset because it has gone missing. 

 

A question which is often asked is – why doesn’t Mary recognise Jesus?

 

Well, if you’d watched someone you really love and value being put to death in a truly horrible way, and you know they are really dead and buried, would you expect to see them walking around a couple of days later? 

 

I don’t think it would even have entered into Mary’s head that this might be Jesus – she may have seen that he looked a bit similar, but there her seeing would have ended, I am sure. 

 

She sees the gardener, and she values him as that. 

She speaks to him, because he might be useful

in her painful plight. 

 

Only when she is addressed by name does Mary really see – and of course realises she is seeing her beloved Jesus again – he has been raised from the dead.

 

Oh Wow! 

 

In the first part of the gospel we heard of the visit of two of the disciples to the tomb. Peter, we are told, sees the grave clothes. We know nothing more about what he thinks or does. 

 

The other disciple, however, looks in, sees the grave clothes, hangs back a bit, then goes into the grave and sees – sees – well nothing – because there is nothing else there. 

 

However, from seeing nothing, John tells us, he ‘saw and believed’. 

 

There was no-one and nothing to see – and yet from that absence he was able to believe.  

 

Exactly what he believed at that stage in the journey is unclear – but what is clear is that his seeing the empty grave was transformed into an act of faith. His seeing nothing took on a whole new aspect – its value increased beyond measure because it was taken out of the parameters of this world, into those of God’s kingdom. 

 

If there is one thing which really stands out from the whole Christian story, and the Easter chapter in particular, it is that the ways of the world and the ways of the Kingdom of God are different

 

If Easter had been lived according to the normal rules there would have been a death, followed by mourning, followed by – well who knows.

 

Because that isn’t what happened. There was a death, followed by a brief period of mourning, then after only two nights, on the third day, there was the resurrection. The normal rules had been broken. 

 

As human beings we don’t understand the how of what happened. But what we do know is that it did.

 

The good news of Easter is that Jesus rose from the dead

so that we can all experience the love of God and know his forgiveness, joy peace and hope. 

 

If we can take that on board, and give it value in our lives,

then Easter has to affect our whole approach to the world

and its problems, pain and complexities. 

 

Because when Jesus broke from the tomb it wasn’t just the grave clothes which were loosed and the stone which rolled away –

it was a whole new way of seeing the world which opened up.

 

It is a way of seeing half full rather than half empty;

it is a way of seeing love rather than hatred;

it is a way of seeing hope rather than despair.

 

And what’s more it is a way of seeing ways to live those positive values in our lives, so that others can see a different way too. 

 

How powerful if we could all stand up for the positives of the love of God in Jesus Christ and fulfilled in the resurrection of his son Jesus Christ.

 

The Easter story is old, but it is as fresh today as it was 2000 years ago, and its worth is priceless.

 

If we approach the world with the eyes of Easter, what we will see will be glimpses of God’s kingdom in the here and now;

what we see, we will value;

and, working together with Christ,

thanks to Easter, the world can become a better place.

 

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!