Homily Easter Sunday 2020

Alleluia, Christ is risen. 

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The triumphant song of Easter - and one that has sustained Christians down through the centuries in the most difficult of circumstances – the knowledge that out of what looked to all intents and purposes like death and defeat, Christ brought new hope and a new future.

And for us, today, in these extraordinary times we can be sustained by this hope, too, as we rejoice in our risen Lord.

At the moment, it may feel a little as though we’re not yet ready to celebrate, still constrained by fear of what that future might hold for us and for our loved ones.  We remain in a sort of half-light, waiting for the dawn, and release from the darkness so much of the world is enduring. 

Was that how the two Mary’s felt?  The dawn was only just breaking when they went to the tomb.  They were caught up in their grief, wanting just to be in the peace and quiet, to spend time where Jesus lay, to remember all that he had meant to them, to mourn his death, unable to look beyond it. 

But the reality was rather different!

Their visit turned out to be not about grief but joy, not about fear but hope, not about death, but life. 

Through this and his other appearances to his friends, God makes a pretty dramatic statement of his victory over death.  A desolate and meaningless future for Christ’s disciples becomes one of purpose and action. 

All of Jesus’ teaching, his stories, his parables, make sense now.  As the angel said to the women: “He isn’t here! He’s been raised, as he said he would be!”

Think of the Samaritan woman at the well – Jesus tells her that he can give her living water that will become a spring welling up to eternal life in whoever drinks it. 

Now on Easter morning we know what that means in a way we could never have done had we remained in the shadows of Good Friday.

We continue to walk through fearful times, and the darkness and despair of Holy Saturday seems very real, particularly those who are vulnerable or lonely.

We think, too, of those for whom this Easter Day is one of continuing anxiety and fear.  And those who are struggling with illness, or whose loved ones have succumbed without the opportunity to say goodbye - these losses are very real to many and must not be ignored or cheapened by a call to untrammelled joy. 

And for all of us, so much of what we took for granted has been lost.

But there is hope, and there is a new future.

There are continuing signs of progress as the world fights its battle against coronavirus. The skies seem to be lightening for some, the sun making its presence known as it begins to scatter the darkness of night.

And alongside what we have lost, new things have taken root, and we are witnessing a flowering of compassion and care.  There is a widespread and acute recognition of the need to take greater responsibility for our actions – that they really do have a profound effect, locally, nationally, worldwide.  It’s no longer a theory, but a fact. 

Yes, perhaps we have always known that, but held it at arm’s length. 

Climate change and the impact of plastics brought it closer and we began to realise that our behaviour, our habits, needed to change.  But what has really brough it home is the situation we find ourselves in today.  

There is an immediacy to it: there are inescapable, day by day, direct consequences of our actions.

If this means that we truly learn to love and care for our neighbour, whoever and wherever they are, that we reach out to the lonely or vulnerable, are willing to go the extra mile, to share what we have, and do what we can, then in the midst of all that we are experiencing that really is something to celebrate this Easter morning.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. 

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!