Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Sunday - Br Simeon

St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour
Holy Redeemer

In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order
Homily preached at Winmalee on
20th April 2014:      Easter Sunday, by Br. Simeon

Gospel:  Matthew 28: 1-10

“ Power and wonder of the Resurrection

Eternal God, on this most holy of days, stir up your Holy Spirit within us that are gathered here this morning, so that your words to us would lead us to be faithful always to your way, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Today, we must visit a tomb.  That seems a bit strange.  Most people don’t enjoy going to graveyards.  Among our list of favourite things to do, no one places, "Visit the mortuary."  Yet, as Christians, we chose to visit this tomb and to visit it often.

The tomb that we seek to visit is not just any tomb.  It is the tomb of our
Saviour.  This is the place where the body of Jesus was once laid.  Strange how sweet this place is to us.  Surely, it is not like the tomb of others. There was weeping here once, but no longer.  There was sorrow here once, but no longer.  There was hurt here once, but no longer.

The women going to the tomb that morning were not going there to celebrate a resurrection. No, they were going to finish the burial process, for on Friday afternoon there had not been time to properly prepare Jesus’ body. For them it was not going to be a good day.

They were not thinking springtime thoughts about flowers bursting forth from the earth, or caterpillars turning into butterflies, or new born baby chicks breaking loose from eggs. None of those thoughts entered their minds because you see they were in the middle of the Easter story.

What they saw and heard that day was an earthquake shaking the earth, a stone being rolled away, guards being so frightened that they became like dead men, an angel appearing, and last but not least, Jesus talking to them as they rushed back to tell the disciples that the tomb was empty and that, can you believe it, Jesus was going to meet them in Galilee.

He was going to meet them in Galilee, how could that be, after what happened to him on that Friday. They did not know how Jesus was brought back to life, but they believed it happened, just as we believe it happened. It was going to be a good day after all.

The early disciples witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They could not forget the open tomb and His pierced hands, and wounded side. The living Christ had a powerful and profound effect on them. The people who went to the tomb on that first Easter morning testify to the power of the resurrection. They were in awe and wonder. This sermon reminds us to revisit the empty tomb each Sunday and remember the wonder of it all.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ caught His followers completely by surprise.  The resurrection came as a wonderful surprise to the disciples. It is very evident none of the disciples were sitting around at the tomb waiting expectantly to see Jesus alive and worshipping Him.

Like the disciples being moved, in awe and wonder;  for us, Easter not only moves us, it touches something deep down inside of us. We encounter God's wonder, that feeling of surprise and awe aroused by something strange and unexpected. It's what Mary Magdalene and the other Mary felt when they learned that Jesus had risen. They departed "quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy" (Matt. 28:8). They were astonished. They went to the tomb expecting to find a dead man in need of embalming. Instead they found an empty tomb. Jesus was alive. That fact, while strange and unexpected, was wonderful and exciting.

One can't experience Easter without wonder. The trouble is that we don't feel wonder any more. Wonder is rare, especially as we grow older. The catch phrase of our culture is: "Been there. Done that." We are spiritually and emotionally not alert. We are a people saturated with analysis, explanations, and experiences - but void of wonder. G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder." It is that wonder and mystery of the resurrection that we want. And once we experienced it the most lavish purchase or the most thrilling experience can never substitute for it. For when God touches you, you know it. You can't explain it. You experience it. You feel it. It goes right through you.

Wonder begins in the presence of Jesus. Regardless of our geography or status or age, where the Lord is present, that place is alive with wonder. As we become more aware of God's presence we become more filled with wonder. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary felt it. It was a power, a vibe that went right through them. When they saw Jesus their only response was to fall at his feet in worship.

When you and I encounter the living Christ, our only response is to celebrate his presence. That's Easter. It is the presence of Jesus that moves us and touches us deeply. It is the rocking experience of Jesus' triumph and the relational experience of Jesus' presence. It becomes an experience to imagine that God will be present in our lives to roll the stone away from our hearts. Easter makes us want to fall at Jesus' feet in gratitude and praise for what he has done. That, my dear friends, is something you don't explain and never forget. You experience it. You feel it. It goes right through you. Christ is Risen, He's Risen indeed!