Friday, 1 April 2016

Easter Sunday 27 Mar 2016 Sermon

Easter Sunday 27.3.16 Reasons for belief

We hold the hope that the next life is going to be a lot better than this one.

For us, as Christians, this is not just wishful thinking, or a sunny optimism. It is a hope based on the certain fact of the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

It can be hard to hold onto this hope, given that we experience and witness so much suffering.

When things are bad it can be hard to believe they will ever get better.

In relation to the body in particular we see the decline of the body over time, gradually losing its power and vitality.

Then we see people being buried in the ground.

And against all this that we see, we are asked to believe what we have not seen, that bodies can rise from the dead.

If we believe in God, who made the world as it is, including our bodies - if He can do that much, surely He can raise dead bodies too. If He can make a body in the first place, why cannot He put that body back together, if He chooses?

We have to respect His immense power and wisdom; to trust that He knows the best way to deal with us, and to bless us.

We are dealing with a God of love, who wants to give us good things. It would be a very strange thing if He gave us this life only, with all its sufferings and unanswered questions. It makes more sense to believe that this life is only a prelude, a foreword to better things.

So if your body is creaking and aching, that does not mean it will always remain that way.

Presuming we are saved all these things will follow on. The power and the goodwill of God guarantee that He will raise us from the dead.

But the strongest argument for the resurrection is that of Our Lord Himself.

As St Peter put it after Pentecost: it was inevitable that Jesus would rise again, because it was unthinkable that the grave could hold Him. (Acts 2,24)

The grave is the symbol of the victory of death, but to Our Lord it was like a motel room. He was just staying for two nights!

The grave could not hold Him because He is the Resurrection and the life (Jn 11,25). Not just that He has life; He is life.

He could have come out of the tomb three minutes later if He wished, but He chose to give us the three days, and to give us Sunday as the day of Resurrection.

Some think that His resurrection was only a spiritual event, inspiring the apostles to carry on with the task. No, it was a real, physical, historical event. Fact not Myth.

Why did He not appear to everyone? Because He wanted belief in His resurrection to be a matter of identification with Him, through love, obedience, and faith.

Only those who love Him will understand this event. Those who will not commit to Him are not in the right frame of mind to have the privilege of seeing Him.

And, it is likely, that even if they had seen Him they would still not have believed, putting it down to a trick, or an hallucination etc.

So a lot comes back to our own attitude. If we are humble, willing to admit there are things we don’t know, we will grow in faith and understanding.

We will live good lives here, die in a state of grace, and eventually rise from the dead. All of this is available to us. We will be tempted to throw it all away; to reduce it to a minor part of life.

But not so for us. We recognise that this is the most important thing about our existence on earth - preparing for heaven.

The grave holds no fear for Our Lord, nor for those who trust in Him.

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