Towards the end of this month we will be celebrating Easter and I wonder how many times you have celebrated the Lenten journey towards the Easter Feast and, in doing so, I wonder what has been transformed in your life?
A couple of weeks ago we had two visitors to church, Grant and Josie, who were part of the Bishops Mission from Nottingham to Liverpool Diocese. Grant and his wife had been in England for just a year and were from Johannesburg in South Africa, starting a new life here. Grant was already a Reverend in South Africa, but was going through the process to be ordained in the U.K., Josie was a 25 year old lady also going forward for ordination. At our service we had begun our Lenten Season and the reading was Jesus going into the desert in the power of the Holy Spirit. As Grant and Josie were going to be speaking to us instead of a sermon, I asked who had been coming to church for more than five years, all hands went up, the years increased to over fifty years and more. I pointed out that if that was the case we should all know by heart the story of Jesus in the Wilderness, so we would use our time to listen to our visitors testimonies.
Josie brought us down to earth to say that she had only been alive for twenty-five years, ouch.
For us who have attended church for many years, knowing the “Good News” of Easter – that Christ is risen from the dead – isn’t really news to us is it. We know the story, we have heard it for years and I wonder if at times it hard to hear something “new” in this particular “Good News.”
But there is a truth to be remembered and it is this. Though the Easter story is old, our lives are renewed by the Gospel each new day. Because Christ rose again, death has been conquered, our sins are forgiven, and we are free to live a new life – a life of boldness and without fear.
In the Easter acclamation when we shout “Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” we are given a very powerful reminder.
It is the crucified and risen Lord who comes to us, forgiving our sins and giving us strength to live as people of faith and we are to remember that each time we share the prayer of The Eucharist, that prayer of Thanksgiving.
You know I have read that Holy Communion given to a person nearing death was “viaticum,” literally meaning “provisions for a journey.” But this holy sacrament is also “provisions” for the living, strengthening our faith, giving us comfort in the troubles of life and courage to face whatever life brings.
On Easter Sunday we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection, that mighty act through which God completed the redemption of the world. Then we declare that “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed” and that is why we are free and unafraid. We are God’s people; we share God’s love; we take our own part in “redeeming” the ills of the world as God has redeemed us. We move forward to the future.
Come. Celebrate. Receive the blessing of Easter anew this year.
Then go. Live boldly as God’s people.
Love, Rev Eileen