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Easter Sunday 16th April 2017

Gospel

John 20:1-9

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’
  So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

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These Easter days are days of remembering. They are days of thanksgiving. These are Easter days – days
of joy. We believe and we proclaim that Christ is alive, that he is risen. We believe that Christ is at the
heart of the world still and that the story of the world is one of God’s creation, of our fall from grace,
of the Word taking flesh in the Incarnation, of our being freed, redeemed from suffering and death and
of resurrection and of new creation. It is good to be alive because all of life and all of suffering and even
death itself is in God’s hands. We have simply to respond in faith and in love, however imperfect our
responses are.
Even from the grave, Jesus speaks to us of hope. He emerges from the stone-sealed tomb to speak to
us of new life, of transfiguration and of re-creation. Whatever our feelings or mood, Jesus promises to
accompany us on our journey and to lead us through the fire of suffering, across the bridge of death
and into the fulfilment of his promise of eternal life. The God we believe in is a God of life, a God who
is with us – even to the end of time.
It is good to be alive and great to celebrate when we believe that the journey of life is steeped in
meaning and significance and that suffering has been transformed and death has been neutralised.
The poet and preacher John Donne once wrote:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me…
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.
It is a blessed thing to be gifted with a faith that takes the sting from death; that directs us on the
pilgrimage that is life and that makes living meaningful and worthwhile. This is what Christ has done
for us. He came out of love to show us how much we are loved by the Father. He came to teach us and
tell us that we are children of the one Father, that his father is Our Father. He came to tell us that we
are loved to a depth and with such feeling that even a violent and cruel death could not destroy or end
such love. There is no wrongdoing that his love cannot transform, no darkness that his light cannot
penetrate; no cruelty that can stand in God’s redeeming way. He demands only that those who believe
in what he revealed about the father; who have been touched by his love should follow his example in
pouring out their lives for God and for others. The life and the legacy of Christ is that love is what
transforms; love is what redeems; love is what lasts.