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Do not be afraid | Easter Sermon

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Today is Easter Sunday and those who have been able to, have gathered online to worship together.  The reading was Matthew 28:1-10

If we had been there on that first Easter morning, 
would we have believed?  
If we had journeyed with Jesus for three years 
would we have understood why he had to die?  
If we had been there with Jesus in the Upper Room 
breaking bread and sharing wine, 
going with him to Gethsemane 
and then watching from a distance the events of Good Friday; 
the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, 
what would we have felt?  
The feeling of hopelessness?  
The thoughts of what am I going to do now?  
What were the past three years for?  

This morning we meet and we come with many emotions
we may feel isolated, scared, fearful, apprehensive,
we may be grieving for what we are unable to do
especially to mark Easter.
Right now we have no idea when we will be able to worship together
and when life may return to something like it was before lockdown.

Today may not feel like Easter Day,
our circumstances may muffle our alleluias
and we may wonder where is God in this?

Our Gospel reading records Matthew's account of the resurrection; 
the drama, fear and joy that the women experienced 
as they went to the tomb mourning and grieving, 
thinking that Jesus' life had ended, 
but when they arrived they saw that the tomb was empty, 
they met with the risen Lord, 
"peace be with you, do not be afraid, go tell my brothers" he said, 
and this transformed their situation giving them hope 
because all that Jesus had previously told them 
about his dying and rising had come true.

We cannot change our current situation,
we may feel lost and helpless, scared and alone.

But in our vulnerability and pain we are not alone
today, this morning we hear the words of Jesus.
"Do not be afraid."

Do not be afraid,
we have no need to fear because Jesus is with us.
We have no need to fear because death is not the end.
We have no need to fear because the message of Easter
is hope and new life, joy and peace,
Jesus has the victory over sin
Jesus has the victory over death
we need to remember this, we need to live this.

Death, where is your victory, where is your sting?
It is gone, Jesus cried on the cross
"It is finished", death is finished, sin is finished.

And in Jesus we have hope.
On Holy Saturday the disciples were facing a hopeless end,
but on Easter Day this turned into endless hope!
And we have the promise of new life in Christ
we have the promise of eternal life with Christ.
For us the cross makes a difference,
no longer a sign of pain and suffering
but a sign of hope, forgiveness and reconciling love.

In the 4th Century Augustine a great thinker and theologian said
"we are Easter people and alleluia is our song."

This year we cannot publicly gather to sing our alleluias
but this does not change the truth that ultimately Jesus has the victory!
There is no need to be afraid because Jesus has the victory.

May be today we are experiencing something of what the first disciples felt.
The first Easter was full of confusion we read in other Easter accounts
that they met behind locked doors in fear.
But Jesus comes to us, like he came to disciples

In our fear, in our isolation, in our longing, in our hoping
we may know the hope of Jesus the resurrection and the life.

We may know the resurrection power of Jesus
breaking through and transforming our situation,
speaking life, stirring hope and bringing peace.

Today, where do you need Jesus to break through?
Where in your life do you need to know the risen Christ, meeting you
and saying "do not be afraid".

This morning, may we know in the midst of the pain and suffering and the uncertainty
the hope of the resurrection the joy of the resurrection
the new life that comes through Jesus, and Jesus alone.

May alleluia be our song for our Lord is risen
for we do not need to be afraid.  Amen.

Into our longing
as into the waiting of the disciples.
Come, Risen Jesus.

Into our isolation
as into the locked upper room
Come, Risen Jesus.

Into our fear and doubts
as into the questioning disciples.
Come, Risen Jesus.

Into our despair, bringing hope,
into our fears, bringing peace,
into our sorrow, bringing joy,
into death, bringing life,
Come, Risen Jesus.

Revd Nathan Falla | Easter Sunday 2020

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