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4th April 2010 - "We are an Easter People"

Catherine Jupp - St Mary's
Easter Day

We are an Easter people’ said Pope John Paul II, ‘and Alleluia is our song’

Today is the most important and marvellous day of the year. It is the centre of our faith, the reason for our hope and the meaning of our existence. ‘If Christ was not raised,’ said St Paul many years ago, ’then our faith is a delusion, and we are the most pitiable people. But the truth is that Christ has been raised!’

Today we celebrate that death has been defeated, that our own death will not be the end, that there is hope for every one of us. That the powers of evil threw everything they had at Jesus, and still could not defeat him. And so they cannot defeat us.
We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.

A few years ago a woman went to church on Easter Day.
She was having a particularly hard time in her life. Her sister had died, her brothers were ill, and she was in a deep depression. She went to an Easter service, and what the preacher said made a great impression on her life.
‘We live in a Good Friday world’ he said.
A Good Friday world is a world full of suffering, questioning, unfairness, trouble, mistakes, hurts, losses and grief. Good Friday in the Christian faith is the day Christians commemorate Christ's suffering and death on the cross.Jesus died because our broken world rejected him.
The world we live in truly is a Good Friday world of pain, and we must not only realize that, we must shout it out loud. Our belief in Jesus is not afraid of the dark realities of our world…nor is it powerless in the face of evil and suffering.
At the woman’s Easter day service the priest continued But ‘We are Easter people.’
Those words stopped her cold. She was stunned to be reminded that painful morning that there was something other than what she was feeling
.“My life was not instantly transformed;’ she said ’ his words did not change the course of my brothers' illnesses nor give me answers to my questions. But the idea of being ‘Easter people’ gave me a pause in my grief and the smallest hope that there really did exist something other than pain.”

When Mary arrived at the tomb on that first Easter, in the dark of the morning before dawn, her life had been a Good Friday life. She knew suffering, she knew rejection, she knew what it meant to be ostracized by an entire community. And the one person who had accepted her and welcomed her and loved her was now dead, stone cold dead… and she knew this was what life was like.Life goes from bad to worse.
That’s how life is, she thought, as she grieved on the way to the tomb. So when she saw the stone rolled away, when she couldn’t find the body of the one man who had seen her as a whole human being and not just a body herself, she didn’t explode with excitement, she groveled in grief.The truth is, the best thing ever had happened, but she assumed the worst.

The truth is, the Good Friday world she has always known had been turned on its head, but she couldn’t see it.Life had beaten the hope out of her. Watching Jesus’ body be wrapped and placed in a tomb had been bad enough; now his body had been stolen, along with Mary’s hope.

Each of us will have times in our lives where we know Mary’s despair and lack of hope.
Each of us will have times where a Good Friday world punishes us and wounds us.

Mary’s hope didn’t come because the other disciples convinced her.No, it is one word…one, simple spoken word that brought Easter into Mary’s Good Friday world.
Jesus himself brought it to her, as she stood face-to-face but unseeing in front of him.“Mary!” he said. Jesus called her by name, and for Mary, it was finally Easter.

And today Jesus calls each and every one of us by name. Maybe we will hear him calling us by name as we kneel at the altar this morning. Look he says, I am here, I am alive. You are an Easter people.

The Easter hope that we celebrate this morning is not wishful thinking. It is not a desperate optimism in the face of difficulties. Our Easter hope is grounded in reality. Christ has been raised.

We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.

Amen