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Sermon for The Easter Liturgy 2020

11th Apr 2020


Sermon for Easter Liturgy 2020

 

 

Now is eternal life

If risen with Christ we stand,

In him to life reborn,

And holden in his hand;

No more we fear death's ancient dread

If Christ arisen fromm the dead.

 

For God the living God,

Stopped down to man's estate,

By death destroying death,

Christ opened wide life's gate:

He lives, who died; he reigns on high;

Who lives in him shall never die.

 

Unfathomed love divine,

Reign thou within my heart;

From thee nor depth nor height,

Nor life nor death can part;

Our life is hid with God in thee,

Now and through all eternity.

 


 

G W Briggs (1875-1959)

Sermon for Easter Liturgy 2020

 

‘What a difference a day makes’ we might say as we come to this glorious Easter time. Within the space of three days, everything for the Christian Church has changed. And in the passing of this brief period of time - of Holy Week and now of Easter, the Church has endured the pain of Christ’s suffering and death in the deep solemnity of Passiontide and now all is suddenly transformed. We proclaim new life to our troubled world. Our joyful cry is “Alleluya!”  And all this has been encapsulated into one single week; the saving events into three days, and now the day of Resurrection comes tonight to startle and amaze us and carry us yet forward. The Alleluya cry is one which this year assumes a new cadence as it both acknowledges and takes in the threatening experience of the Coronavirus.

 

The days of Lent and Passiontide cannot be experienced separately but together as one stream, leading inexorably toward their resurrection fulfilment.  The life that Easter makes possible, is now brought to us as a delicate flame, The Light of the Risen Christ is proclaimed as “Christ our Light”, appearing first as light in darkness and then acknowledged and honored in the glorious Easter song ‘The Exsultet’ as our everlasting life..

 

Then there is the Vigil of Old Testament Readings for the recapitulation of our Christian Faith; the tracing of our spiritual origins. It begins with The Creation Narrative in Genesis, and then proceeds to the Exodus and Abraham and then the promise of the coming of the One who will promise us the God not our of religious duty alone, but his being from the communication of one heart speaking to another. This Easter Liturgy will be a profound celebration of the sacramental life that God has granted us through the blessing of the baptismal waters and of the renewal of our baptismal vows. We are to discover Easter in the outpouring of transformative grace. We come to celebrate the Eucharist anew, warmed and inspired by the presence of the great Easter candle, which is with us as ‘Christ our Light’.

 

May this flame be found still burning

by the Morning Star:

the one Morning Star who never sets,

Christ your Son,

who, coming back from death's domain,

has shed his peaceful light on humanity,

and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

The Church allows us to inhabit this time of intense contemplation with the profound awareness of its deeper meaning. In this we are inhabiting God’s time. We experience again the saving events of our Salvation history as we traverse the long road of experience that led to the coming of Christ. We become those same witnesses to the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ who rushed to the tomb. We become the ones who must now proclaim and share this message of life and hope in the discovery that he has risen and that life as we know it is now changed and transformed for good. This is especially important at the present time. Christians always have a joyful and a hopeful message to proclaim.

 

The contrary movement is negative. It is the ’emptying out’ of the true Easter, and ‘the getting and spending’ in which ‘we lay waste our lives’. We see a society which no longer memorizes the Christian calendar ‘by heart.  ‘On the third day he rose again from the dead’ we say in the Creed. We must proclaim this truth as in the Exsultet, the song of praise to the Easter candle, that Christian Faith may exist as a flame bravely burning, especially at a time of fear and apparent retreat.

 

By the strangest coincidence the peak stage of the Coronavirus pandemic has happened during the world’s Christian Holy Week. In the past week the Church has been experiencing the saving events of our salvation in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has done so through the lens which is the coronavirus pandemic. In this great challenge, we know that Jesus has entered into the experience of what it is like to live and die as a human being. He has involved himself with us and our human condition to the uttermost. He has shown us God’s love for our world in human form. This message of love, delivered through the crucible of pain and suffering and offered up for us on the Cross tells us that he is with us always. He is with us in the coronavirus pandemic. He is with us in the days to come. As he proclaims his suffering, death and Resurrection so we proclaim the resurrection hope for our world. Resurrection – not as a way out of the devastation but as hope in the present as our anxious world charters its way through the devastation. Death will not have the last word, even though each human death is significant and terrible for those who mourn. We stubbornly live the resurrection hope which we proclaim this Easter which will not substitute the Christian hope for what has been called ‘blind faith’ or grudging stoicism.

 

We value the Christian manner of time-keeping as it draws us more surely into Holy Easter, proceeding out of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by accident, but in and through God’s own kairos, his time. Even now, in the midst of crisis, our world needs more than ever to allow its heart to beat in time with God’s heart. Morethan ever our world needs its own confident and joyful ‘Alleluya’, even and especially in the midst of crisis.

 

 

Amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

New English Hymnal

‘What a difference a day makes’ we might say as we come to this glorious Easter time. Within the space of three days, everything for the Christian Church has changed. And in the passing of this brief period of time - of Holy Week and now of Easter, the Church has endured the pain of Christ’s suffering and death in the deep solemnity of Passiontide and now all is suddenly transformed. We proclaim new life to our troubled world. Our joyful cry is “Alleluya!”  And all this has been encapsulated into one single week; the saving events into three days, and now the day of Resurrection comes tonight to startle and amaze us and carry us yet forward. The Alleluya cry is one which this year assumes a new cadence as it both acknowledges and takes in the threatening experience of the Coronavirus.

 

The days of Lent and Passiontide cannot be experienced separately but together as one stream, leading inexorably toward their resurrection fulfilment.  The life that Easter makes possible, is now brought to us as a delicate flame, The Light of the Risen Christ is proclaimed as “Christ our Light”, appearing first as light in darkness and then acknowledged and honored in the glorious Easter song ‘The Exsultet’ as our everlasting life..

 

Then there is the Vigil of Old Testament Readings for the recapitulation of our Christian Faith; the tracing of our spiritual origins. It begins with The Creation Narrative in Genesis, and then proceeds to the Exodus and Abraham and then the promise of the coming of the One who will promise us the God not our of religious duty alone, but his being from the communication of one heart speaking to another. This Easter Liturgy will be a profound celebration of the sacramental life that God has granted us through the blessing of the baptismal waters and of the renewal of our baptismal vows. We are to discover Easter in the outpouring of transformative grace. We come to celebrate the Eucharist anew, warmed and inspired by the presence of the great Easter candle, which is with us as ‘Christ our Light’.

 

May this flame be found still burning

by the Morning Star:

the one Morning Star who never sets,

Christ your Son,

who, coming back from death's domain,

has shed his peaceful light on humanity,

and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

The Church allows us to inhabit this time of intense contemplation with the profound awareness of its deeper meaning. In this we are inhabiting God’s time. We experience again the saving events of our Salvation history as we traverse the long road of experience that led to the coming of Christ. We become those same witnesses to the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ who rushed to the tomb. We become the ones who must now proclaim and share this message of life and hope in the discovery that he has risen and that life as we know it is now changed and transformed for good. This is especially important at the present time. Christians always have a joyful and a hopeful message to proclaim.

 

The contrary movement is negative. It is the ’emptying out’ of the true Easter, and ‘the getting and spending’ in which ‘we lay waste our lives’. We see a society which no longer memorizes the Christian calendar ‘by heart.  ‘On the third day he rose again from the dead’ we say in the Creed. We must proclaim this truth as in the Exsultet, the song of praise to the Easter candle, that Christian Faith may exist as a flame bravely burning, especially at a time of fear and apparent retreat.

 

By the strangest coincidence the peak stage of the Coronavirus pandemic has happened during the world’s Christian Holy Week. In the past week the Church has been experiencing the saving events of our salvation in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has done so through the lens which is the coronavirus pandemic. In this great challenge, we know that Jesus has entered into the experience of what it is like to live and die as a human being. He has involved himself with us and our human condition to the uttermost. He has shown us God’s love for our world in human form. This message of love, delivered through the crucible of pain and suffering and offered up for us on the Cross tells us that he is with us always. He is with us in the coronavirus pandemic. He is with us in the days to come. As he proclaims his suffering, death and Resurrection so we proclaim the resurrection hope for our world. Resurrection – not as a way out of the devastation but as hope in the present as our anxious world charters its way through the devastation. Death will not have the last word, even though each human death is significant and terrible for those who mourn. We stubbornly live the resurrection hope which we proclaim this Easter which will not substitute the Christian hope for what has been called ‘blind faith’ or grudging stoicism.

 

We value the Christian manner of time-keeping as it draws us more surely into Holy Easter, proceeding out of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by accident, but in and through God’s own kairos, his time. Even now, in the midst of crisis, our world needs more than ever to allow its heart to beat in time with God’s heart. Morethan ever our world needs its own confident and joyful ‘Alleluya’, even and especially in the midst of crisis.

 

 

Amen.