In Charles Dickens’ novel ‘CHRISTMAS CAROL’ the ghost of Christmas past is the first of three spirits to haunt Ebeneezer Scrooge.
We all have memories of Christmas past.
But it is very unlikely that any of us have any memories of Easters past.
That is not surprising – we find it easier to identify with a crib than with a tomb.
But the crib and the tomb are central in our religion and to our faith.
Jesus’ birth at Christmas was a major step forward in God’s plan to save us.
Jesus risen at Easter continues that plan through all time.
Jesus Christ the same - yesterday, today and through all ages, as we just said over the Easter Candle.
Jesus birth was vital but if his life ended with His death, then He would just be another important figure in history.
But St. Paul said that if Jesus is not risen from the dead, our faith means nothing.
YES JESUS HAS RISEN – the angels said it on the first Easter Sunday morning at the tomb HE IS NOT HERE- HE IS RISEN.
THAT IS THE GOOD NEWS by which we live.
Jesus is alive and active and available to me and you in our efforts to live good Christian lives.
THE SAD NEWS is that it can easily pass us by and make no difference to how we live.
The challenge is to make this Easter different from all previous ones.
How can it make a difference in my life?
The first thing is to take Him at His word when He says :”I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS. Now we either live by that or we don’t.
Because He is risen He is no longer limited by time, space or distance - no limits to where He can be or what He can do.
He didn’t just return to life as Lazarus did. Lazarus did eventually die again.
Jesus came back to a life that did not include death – He overcame death.
One of our problems with the resurrection is that we have been inclined to see it in terms of the next life- that after death we too will rise to new life.
And that of course is true - that is our faith and our hope.
But the resurrection is also for now- for this life.
Jesus said to His friend Martha “ I AM THE RESURRECTION”.
In other words-the resurrection is in front of you Martha.
For us the resurrection is not just an event – IT IS A PERSON – a real live, personal friend to all of us.
For me then the resurrection means that there is a power and a presence available to me each day to help me overcome the things in my life that try to drag me down- that suck the life out of me - bitterness, grudges, selfishness, unforgiveness-
All the things that make life a slow death.
Sad weeks are common in our world with evil acts destroying lives. Weeks have been sad for 2000 years as evil appears to win over goodness.
The power of Jesus risen will eventually win out.
The power of Jesus risen helps us overcome evil tendencies in our own lives- the first step in removing evil from or world.
Resurrection frees us from everything deadly in our lives.
Personally everytime I overcome a weakness is a personal resurrection.
This is why we rejoice and are glad today- for the Lord has risen.
Our Bishop’s motto invites us this Easter Day to “ REJOICE AND BE GLAD”….THE LORD IS RISEN ALLELUIA.
WE HAVE A REAL, LIVE, FASCINATING FRIEND TO SHARE OUR LIVES IF WE ASK HIM IN…..OUR FOREVER FRIEND.
If there is such a thing as surprise or embarrassment in heaven it will be the realisation of what was available to us in life as a result of the resurrection and we missed it.
How different life could have been if only….
Jesus may well say to us what He said to the woman at the well—'IF YOU ONLY KNEW THE GIFT OF GOD’.
WE HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE THIS EASTER TO GRASP THE GIFT OF GOD – JESUS’ RESURRECTION MEANS THAT HE IS WITH US EVERYDAY AS A FRIEND.
HE WILL RAISE US UP ABOVE OURSELVES.
LETS GRASP IT WITH BOTH HANDS.