Reference: Luke 24:1-12
Introduction: From the earliest days of the church the six weeks leading up to Holy Week and Easter Day were weeks of preparation, through learning from the Scriptures, through abstinence and prayer, - preparation for holy baptism for a new birth into the Christian Faith; for a new start in life with new hope and its associated joy and peace. For those already baptised, it was a season of intentionally drawing back to God once again, for we do so easily drift away; and hence we learn to be God’s people once again.
Today’s great celebration of New Birth: So today, Easter Day, is the great celebration of new birth into our Christian Faith, into becoming members of a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a holy people belonging to God; called and set apart to be witnesses in the world to God’s love and his saving work through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection from the dead. This is your calling and mine and will be that of those being baptised today. We are a holy people with an extraordinary and wonderful purpose in the world. Whatever we are doing at work or at leisure we are called to be a people who make Christ known in both deed and word. As it is true that once one is ordained in the church as a priest, one remains a priest ‘till death, so also it is true that once one is baptised into the Christian Faith, once we have responded to God’s call to follow Christ, we are his forever – a holy people, set apart. Yes, it requires the sacrifice of other purposes in life, but it’s rewards are unfathomable, both in this world and in the next. All the riches of heaven become ours in Christ Jesus.
The joy and fruit of the Resurrection life: So, on this Resurrection morning, we recall our new birth, our death and resurrection into a new life as a Christian – there is no higher purpose on earth. And this new birth is enabled by our turning away from all sin – dying to those aspects of our life that hinder our calling and mar our soul. And then we turn to Christ, to the way that brings life in all its fulness – a life with its struggles, yes; but also a life full of hope and assurance, with its accompanying joy and peace.
It’s a life in which we discover, time and time again, God’s faithfulness and goodness in both good times and bad. We discover the authority given to us in our prayers, for the prayers of a faithful person has great power in their effect. When filled with the divine presence of God’s Holy Spirit, that gift offered to all who believe in Christ, then we do make a significant difference in the world. We become a blessing to our communities, a bringer of hope, a healer of the sick, a supporter of the sufferer, a welcomer to the stranger and a carer of the poor. And more than that, we become signposts to the one who saves us from the power and fruit of our sins; to him who brings hope from despair and ultimately brings life out of death. This holiest of days we celebrate the risen all-powerful Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Prince of Peace, who will come again as Judge of the living and the dead, bringing at last, peace and justice to all the earth. In him we place our trust and hope. And we will not be disappointed at the end! Hallelujah!
Conclusion: So, let’s not hesitate to enter again, wholeheartedly, the faith into which we were baptised that we may know again the joy of our salvation. May Easter joy fill your soul today!
The Revd Hugh Ellis, Vicar & Team Rector