Easter Sunday

John 20:1-18
5 April 2021

This morning, children all over the world are excited because of these (hold up an Easter egg). I can relate to that as I am a self-confessed chocoholic. Do you like chocolate. Ok, let’s have a show of hands. Who likes dark chocolate? Milk chocolate? What about white chocolate? I like any chocolate. You name it, I like it!

When I was growing up, we didn’t get chocolate very often. Easter was the exception though and we always got an Easter Egg. It was an exciting time and a day that my sisters and I really looked forward to. We used to have a bit of a competition to see who could make their Easter egg last the longest. So we tried to keep it intact for as long as we could. But that is difficult when you want to eat the chocolate. So, what we used to do once it was open, every time we had a piece of chocolate, we would carefully wrap it up and put it back in the box to make it look as if it hadn’t been touched. We could always tell though.

So…I have two eggs and I need two volunteers. They have to take out the egg, divide it in half and put the other half back in the box neatly and for it to look like it hasn’t been touched. They are against the clock though because they have only got as long as it takes me to finish my sermon. Hand the Easter eggs to the two church wardens

Nowadays, my excitement for Easter morning is not about opening an easter egg but about being a part of the joy that is Easter Sunday as we celebrate new life in Jesus Christ. If you have read my newsletter this week you may have worked out that this is my 36th Easter since I became a Christian – how did that happen? How many Easters have you seen? Any advance on 36?

Most of us know the story of that first Easter morning quite well. We may even think that we know it inside out because we’ve heard it so many times. It is a story that holds a message that has remained unchanged for over 2000 years and it is a message that we need to hear afresh again and again.

I wonder whether there was a part in today’s Easter story that stood out for you? Something that you heard that you hadn’t given much thought to before? Or do you know it so well that…Well…its just the Easter story?

But…it’s not just a story, is it? We believe that these are real events, real people and real anxieties.  You see, the world the disciples were living in 2000 years ago was in a place occupied by the Romans. It was a world of hardship, slavery, cruelty and disease.  It was a time when disobeying rules and laws could mean death.  It was a future without hope. 

And then Jesus came into their lives. This man, their friend Jesus, gave the disciples hope for a future they never thought possible. It was all looking so good…..and then Good Friday happened!  Just imagine the feelings of despair. It must have all seemed so senseless. Three long years of discipleship wasted on a man who obviously wasn’t all he claimed to be.  Their hopes and dreams were crushed by his crucifixion. And not only that but because of their association with him, they could well be next. They were huddled away behind locked doors when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early that morning, only to find that it had been rolled away.

She didn’t hang about to see for herself. Instead, she ran to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. He isn’t mentioned by name in the fourth gospel but it is thought to be John, the gospel writer himself. If that is so, then what we have heard is an eye-witness account.

Upon hearing the news, Peter got up and ran to the tomb. This is the same Peter, who only days before had denied Jesus three times. John, being the first to the tomb was the first to look in. But he didn’t go in. He followed Peter in. He saw the tomb clothes neatly folded…but no body. And we are told that he believed. He believed what? The story doesn’t say. The last thing they were expecting was the resurrection and we are told that they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Can’t blame them really! John may have seen and believed but what could he do but return to the safety of his home.

That left Mary Magdalene, alone, afraid and totally bereft. I would imagine that the last thing on Mary’s mind is that she will see Jesus alive. She is probably thinking something on the lines of that he is dead and someone has stolen his body.  Mary stands in the garden feeling what many of us feel at times. Lost…alone…helpless…all hope gone.

But then, in an instant everything changed. It was just one word that turned Mary’s world back around…do you know what that one word was? It was ‘Mary’. When Jesus called her by name there was instant recognition and she saw the risen Christ. Just imagine being called by name and being trusted with a message that could change the world.

Well…guess what?

You have been chosen and you have been called by name. Now…you’re probably sitting there thinking… no way! That you’ are a poor choice to be a messenger of Good News. That even if you had the confidence, you wouldn’t be taken seriously.

But what about Mary Magdalene? I wonder why Jesus chose Mary For a start she was a woman and a woman with a colourful past and a dubious reputation, if the rumours could be believed! She would never be fully regarded as an equal by the people of her day. She was definitely poor witness material! 

And what about us? What do you think made Jesus call us by name? Is it the way we look, the things we say, the way you behave…or perhaps our special skills or talents. Talking of special skills, Now might be a good moment to See how our volunteers have got on with their task. (Examine the efforts.)

Would your egg look much different? Is this sort of thing something you are good at? Some of us could make the egg look perfect, some of us just couldn’t do it. The thing is, is that it doesn’t matter. We are all different. We all come with a different set of personalities, different skills and talents. We come before God as…just us.

We are not expected to be perfect. God loves us, complete with our imperfections and insecurities. So, what qualifies us to be chosen by God? The answer is……absolutely nothing. God loves us just as we are. He loves us so much that he went to the cross for us. He died there for us. And he rose again for us.

And today we celebrate and rejoice because Jesus Christ is Risen!
He is risen indeed – Alleluia!

Revd. Julie Clarkson
April 2021

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