By time you are reading this we will have, as a congregation, celebrated the great Festival of Easter. Easter is difficult for many in that resurrection is beyond them and they have no way of computing it therefore, for them, it cannot happen. It is difficult: it was difficult for those first disciples – look at the end of all four gospels. In all, the news of resurrection is greeted with incredulity. Those folk weren’t credulous, ignorant, superstitious folk. They were like you and me: they looked at events through the prism of their own experience and thought this is just too much. We know, that through the personal experience of encountering the risen Christ, in that upper room, on a roadside leading to Emmaus or by the shore of the lake, they did become to believe. It cannot have been easy. So it is not easy, but it wasn’t any easier for them. We cannot experience that very personal direct encounter they experienced but we do, believe it or not, face situations that make us see new life occurs. The question then, ‘What does the resurrection mean to us in the 21st century’, is answered by the affirmation that resurrection is not an historical event that happened just once, somewhere on the edge of old Jerusalem, but is something that happens today.
Resurrection is about new life: new life for all God’s people who are struggling and cannot see beyond the hopelessness, the futility, the hurt. Jesus didn’t just give life to Lazarus: he gave life to a woman who had bled for twelve years, excluded because she was impure; he gave life to a man called Bartimaeus who was blind and so excluded from any kind of meaningful life in his community because he couldn’t work; he gave life to a tax collector who was excluded from any kind of normal social life because of his job, Zacchaeus; he gave new life to a poor man demented -whom scripture describes as being possessed by devils. Jesus gave these people life, and to many more, when for them, life had ended or wasn’t worth having. Look around you and look at the world today and tell me in the name of God you cannot help bring new life to the lives of others. You see, new life begins where love touches. You have love to give and it may be the lady in your street worn down caring for a member of her family; it may be the child whose mum hasn’t quite got it right; it may be the lonely soul you encounter, the hungry child in the Third World, the stranger (immigrant) who has come into your community. They need to experience new life and in the name of Christ you will be the one to bring it to them. When that happens the resurrection becomes a reality in which we all can have confidence.
A happy and holy Eastertide to you all.