Everything Must Change

Everything Must Change

Easter Day 2019

Readings: Isaiah 65. 17-25; Psalm 118. 14-24; Acts 10. 34-43; Luke 24. 1-12 (view all).

For he lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

From the hymn, ‘See what a morning’ – Stuart Townend & Keith Getty

At the heart of Christianity is a claim: The claim that two thousand years ago, when Jesus of Nazareth died, he died for our sins. The claim that three days later, on the first Easter Day, he was resurrected.

We can try to separate out what we’d like to believe about Jesus from the events reported by the New Testament. We can try instead to conjure up a nice image of an inspired, ancient teacher who had some good bits of advice to give.

But ultimately it’s impossible — the cross and resurrection permeate every aspect of the New Testament and every aspect of Christian tradition.

So the question before you and I today, one which ultimately even with all the nice hymns and poetic liturgy we cannot avoid, is this: 

Is it true? Will you believe this claim that Christ was raised from the dead? And if so, what difference will it make to your life, to your world? 

Writing about the empty tomb, Rowan Williams says this,

We can’t set up the hidden video camera in the garden on Easter eve and find out what really happened. What we have instead is the impact of an event that caused people to believe that the world had changed for ever…

God with us, p.82. 

For the first Christians, the resurrection changed everything — it wasn’t planned, they weren’t expecting it, and there was no reference point from their Jewish scriptures to make sense of it all.

Unlike the accounts of the crucifixion, which are beautifully rounded including quotes to show Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, the gospel accounts of the resurrection are basic, blunt, confused. 

For some, this is proof that they were made up, but when you think about it, it could actually be proof that these accounts are real. That this event was entirely unexpected, and that Jesus’ disciples had no words ready and no references prepared. 

In one morning, everything had changed and Jesus, the one they thought was dead, had returned to life. 

See God’s salvation plan,

wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,

fulfilled in Christ, the Man,

for he lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

For those disciples, and for us today, the implications of the resurrection span the whole of space and time. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and nothing like this has ever happened since.

For Christians, the resurrection means the beginning of a new world, the new world of God’s Kingdom. As the special prayer, the collect, for today tells us, ‘A new day has dawned and the way to life stands open.’ 

Believing in the resurrection is what makes the Church more than just a memorial foundation, the ‘Jesus Society’, remembering the old words of a now dead teacher.It means that Jesus is alive and active in our world today, and calls his Church to be his body, to join in with him in what he is doing.

One preacher, Rob Bell, puts it like this: 

Resurrection says that what we do with our lives matters… every act of compassion matters, every work of art that celebrates the good and the true matters, every fair and honest act of business and trade, every kind word. They all belong and they will all go on in God’s good world. Nothing will be forgotten, nothing will be wasted. It all has its place.

Rob Bell, Resurrection (2010)

Because of the Resurrection everything has changed and everything is changed — and all things are made new! 

The voice that spans the years,

speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,

will sound till he appears,

for he lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

So, for you, if today is an opportunity to read an old story, hear some lovely choral music, to be reminded of your childhood, then that’s ok, and you will always be very welcome.

But there is so much more — and if you truly believe that Jesus is alive, that everything has changed and everything is changed, then everything must change!

Come to the fountain of life, come be part of Christ’s body, come and be part of something bigger. Come and join us as we seek to bring new life, growing God’s Kingdom for the good of our neighbours and the good of God’s world.

And we are raised with him,

death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;

and we shall reign with him,

for he lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

Alleluia! Amen.