A sermon given during the 10:00am Easter Sunday Festal Choral Eucharist, by The Rt Rev’d Chris McLeod, on the 9th April 2023.
Through him you have enlightened us by revealing the light that never fades … (Service of Light, APBA, p. 457)
‘So, they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell the disciples’ (Matthew: 28: 8)
The first disciples were as confused as many contemporary people are about the resurrection of Jesus. Good Friday ended in so much darkness. Their leader had been arrested, tortured, crucified, and buried. Jesus was dead with everything he stood for, and those that followed him, seemed to be dead with him. Their hope was gone, and they, for very good reason, feared for their own lives. What had happened to Jesus, could well happen to them. So, they locked themselves away. They were alone, frightened, and felt little hope. But then something happened – the resurrection of their friend and leader, Jesus.
It dawned on them slowly that they were now moving in a different direction. At first, they were confused, but as the light began to dawn, they began to see things from a different perspective. They were given hope. However, this risen Jesus was different; he wasn’t the same. They saw him but did not recognise him immediately. There was something different about him. He had the scars of the crucifixion, but he was not the same as before. The same Jesus, but a different Jesus. He was the now the resurrected Jesus. As I said a few weeks ago, death no longer had dominion over him, and, because of this, death no longer had dominion over his disciples. They were to become a transformed people, a people of hope with a future.
Several years ago, a friend gave me a biblical text when I was experiencing a time of personal darkness:
Isaiah 45:3 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
and riches hidden in secret places,
so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
We are emerging from Covid-19. Even though we may feel we are over it, we must still be a little careful. The lessons I learnt coming out of the darkness of Covid are about what really matters: family, friends, our neighbours, our church communities, strangers, kindness, justice, mercy, and, most importantly, God and prayer. These things can slip away as we are thrust back into normality: the treasures out of darkness, and riches hidden in secret places. That is at the core of the message of Easter. It may be that for some of you, darkness, brought about by many reasons, may still be where you are. Let me say, amid the darkness, and not seen by many, God is at work. God gives us treasures out of darkness – Easter – the resurrection of Jesus.
The resurrection light of Jesus shines upon us. We are a people of hope. God calls us forward, and ‘turns our mourning into dancing’ (Psalm 30: 11). We will be different. We are being called from darkness into light!
‘… May we who celebrate this holy feast walk in his risen light and bring new life to all creation.’ (Prayer after communion for Easter, APBA, p. 155)