Sermon by Rev Stuart Simpson on 21 April 2019 (Easter Sunday)
Readings were Isaiah 65:17-25 and Luke 24:1-12
There was huge fascination, interest and grief as fire engulfed part of the Notre dame cathedral last week. The iconic spire at the top of the Cathedral collapsed. Firefighters managed to save the cathedral’s landmark rectangular towers from the blaze, but a Paris deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral had suffered “colossal damages.”
By the way, did you know Jesus is alive?
It’s been a tense week while we wait to hear news about Kiwi nurse Louisa Akavi. The Red Cross has made a worldwide public appeal to find missing New Zealand nurse Louisa Akavi who was captured by the Islamic State in 2013; she has been missing for five-and-a-half years. The 62-year-old’s five-and-a-half year kidnapping is the longest in the 156-year history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Did you hear Jesus is alive!
How many of you watched the first episode of Game of Thrones season eight last week? How many of you know what I am talking about? Did you know The Game of Thrones season eight premiere brought in a record-breaking 17.4 million viewers in the US, according to Entertainment Weekly? The show has become the biggest broadcast in HBO’s history – more than The Sopranos’ finale in 2007 with 11.9 million tuning in.
Jesus is alive!
The world is a noisy place. We are bombarded with news, entertainment, sounds, lights, action.
With all this noise do we hear the angel’s words
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
And if we hear, are we filled with hope or do we consider what we’ve heard as an idle tale? If we do believe, do we also fully grasp what this means for the world? There has been no other person in the history of the world who has been ‘Resurrected’. Not simply brought back to life, resuscitated, but someone who has defeated death.
Jesus’ resurrection shouts something NEW. Something we can’t respond to by our usual ‘oh yeah, seen that before’ because we haven’t seen this before. The world is different now; the usual has gone out the window.
Jesus is alive.
A story that has always stuck with me is about Martin Luther King Jr, the American Baptist minister and activist, who after a long time on the road, found himself in great despair. He was overcome with illness to the point he had no strength to venture from his room. He had begun to lose hope that his words and actions were effective and all his work was done in vain. This carried on for a couple of weeks, until Martin’s wife, Coretta Scott King, said to Martin, ‘I know it is hard, you are tired, but remember Jesus isn’t dead – he is alive.’ Upon hearing these words, Martin was able to continue his work, (not instantly, other things were put in place to provide care for him, but the truth moved him from the bed of grief to the work of hope).
We, like Martin Luther King Jr, are reminded, we live in the time of Resurrection. We are reminded that no matter what there is that seeks to overcome us, even death, it no longer has the final say.
In Jesus, Resurrection is the final say
I know you are tired, worn out,
the fires keep burning,
those who offer care are still vulnerable
and sorrows are entertainingly glossed over
But like the empty cross in the Notre dame Cathedral after the fire, Jesus has risen.
Jesus is alive!
And this is our hope.
The video ‘Mementos’ by Nuno Rocha, which we will watch now, shows us a man who has seemingly lost everything. Through the actions and love of his family he is reunited with his daughter and his wife. He is brought back to life and experiences, the hope of what was, can be again. Whatever power had led him to sleeping on the street, it is overcome with profound, transforming love – he is reminded of who he was and whom he belongs to.
So much more profoundly does the resurrection of Jesus provide us with Hope. I can imagine, In Jesus’ resurrection that he surrounds us, embraces us, and screams – not like on the cross, but screams out to death and all that pull us down and says
No more! You have not had me, you will not have them!
This is the Hope that speaks into the deception of death, evil, hate, selfishness, fear and anxiety, that seek to weave themselves into our lives, the lives of our families, society and the very fabric of creation.
Whatever we experience in life, even to the point where we find ourselves like the man in the video, death has not and never will get in the way of the life God desires for us. We will have new life, we will be resurrected, and that begins now.
And if we believe Jesus is alive, in hope we must shout out ‘No’ to the power that
Fear and anxiety
had over us and the world– they no longer have the final say.
Jesus is alive!
If anything in this service has spoken to you, if you want to know more about what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, if you feel God has been speaking to you, then please feel free to talk to one of the ministers or St John’s elders.