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Easter Sunday Sermon 2017

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Easter Day Sermon: - based on John 20 and Revelation 1easter

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Cor: 15)

We gather on a Sunday (every Sunday) to worship God because of what happened on a Sunday. Our Sunday is the first day. It is the day of new creation. We re-live and celebrate the one event in history which has eclipsed all others, the one event (believe it or not) which has changed, and will change, all things. The one event which everyone (almost) thought was nonsense or impossible happened in history.

We gather to bring to mind the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead but also to experience, in the here and now, that special new life that God has granted to those who believe that Jesus Christ - crucified and raised from the grave – is alive and is alive forever more. This is what makes us Easter People. Although "Easter" as such is not mentioned in scripture we are defined, Sunday-by-Sunday, by the first day of the week. But be under no illusion any day of the week can be the first day!

Because of this day the church was born. Because of this day, men and women (in multitudes) have staked their very lives and futures on this event and what it has meant to them; some of those men and women went serenely towards their awful deaths, trusting that because of this day, and this Jesus Christ, that death would not have the final say – that death was defeated on that day.

We've been on quite a journey to get here.

Friday – where again we were given the opportunity to stare in incredulity, or look away in horror at the seeming barbarity of the cross with Christ crucified between two crooks on Calvary's crest outside the city walls.

On Friday my hope died. The sky wept itself dark the ground broke apart and all creation cried for the bloodied innocence hammered into a tree.

And Saturday – the long day where Christ lies entombed as we wait with all his followers and the world to see if he will make his promised comeback...

On Saturday we grieved, hiding from the troops whom we'd once believed would be overthrown by the carpenter's boy, who had preached and fed and healed, and was now dead. But,

Praise the Lord and thank God it's Sunday!

We hear a lot of OMG's these days!

TGIF we hear people say too, "thank God it's Friday!" The weekend's here.

From where we stand Friday means the Cross. We speak so glibly of it. We spiritualise it. But the Cross was intended as the final destination for all those who did not matter.

A kind of waste disposal unit for the forgotten... That was Friday's cross...

Jesus of Nazareth died on Friday's cross – as someone who didn't matter!

And the truth is for most people he still doesn't matter

– he has the same significance at Easter that chicks and chocolates do, that bunnies and bonnets and bouquets of flowers do. For some that Friday was a parade...

He was a non-entity, a man simply – mad, bad or sad – for all his great deeds and great claims; he was a victim of the combined cruelties of other men, a play-thing...

Friday – scourged and spat at, ridiculed and railed against.

Friday - a crown of hawthorn crushed cruelly on God's innocent brow...

Friday – impaled and raised up and hanging forgotten in the place of the forgotten...

Friday – God-forsaken and derelict, crying out and dying...

And removed from Friday's cross – dead!

And buried in Friday's grave – discarded like yesterday's news...

And yet, here are we, just like Mary and the other women – early on the first day of the week and Friday's gone...

Saturday's cold vigil has gone; we've come through that...

Discovering again (I pray) the joy and alarm and disbelief and joy again of Sunday...

Remembering the reality of Friday's death, of course...

For Friday and Sunday will always go together.

But Friday will not have the last word!

For we live not alone (not simply) in Friday's death – we don't want to live as though Sunday never came...

But in the life of Sunday as the sun comes up in the garden – seeing the light of dawn – as though for the first time...

There we are, we're standing – not at the graveside of a noble, forgotten loser – but worshipping Christ the Victor, the living One, the Alpha and the Omega...

Raised forever more from the dead"

Praise the Lord and thank God it's Sunday!

And Sunday is the day for turning; turning like Mary – away from the tomb of death; turning away at the angel's command, turning from fear...

For turning around and seeing Him there, at first through tears of disbelief...

Friday's tears now Sunday's joy;

Friday's scowls are Sunday's smiles!

Sunday is for turning towards him and hearing his Voice say, "Ann, Susan..."

Turning towards Him as He speaks to you, "You didn't believe, for all I have said, I'm alive and you thought I was dead!"

Turning towards him and knowing He is alive...

Sunday – the day the tables were turned!

When a woman is the first to preach the good news on the first day of the week – "I have seen the LORD!"

Friday's gone! When the world threw its virulent worst at Him; Friday's has lost!

Praise the Lord and thank God it's Sunday!

Praise the Lord for Sunday's here!

The work of Friday done – the devil's hour short-lived and gone – sin is done and death is done...

And not just for Him, the first-born from the dead...But for you...

– if you'll turn and trust his truth – the One who is and was and is to come...

But then on Sunday – The devastating beauty of that Sunday – when time and space were blown out of shape and angels wrapped in electric grace rolled the impossible away,

'He is not here' they proclaimed for glory had risen our failings were forgiven and the rules of life and death were rewritten as an empty tomb declared, 'Love is alive.' *

Praise the Lord and thank God it's Sunday!

* Devastating beauty Gideon, Tearfund....