May I speak in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
I want you to think about the momentous days in your life. We all have them. Days, when everything changes. Perhaps that’s your wedding day or the day a new family member arrived or perhaps the day, had it gone any differently, your life would have been so different. You won’t be at all surprised to hear, that Claire and myself started dating, because I managed to make a mistake. Although Claire and I were on the same course at University, studying genetics, because my surname is Young and Claires was Blackburn, it was rare we ever worked near one another as they tended to organise us alphabetically. I, typically for me, mistakenly went to the wrong group, for those with surnames in the first half of the alphabet and found myself in a coursework group with Claire. The rest is history as they say, but I thank God for my mistake riddled nature, because that day, though I didn’t know it, my life was to change completely. Ever since that day, poor Claire has had me following her around, so pray for her! My life, myself changed due to a silly mistake, was changed for the better.
For all those who witnessed the ressurection, that event was to change their life and prove to be the point around which they would live the rest of it. Many who previously ran for their lives would now die for Jesus, so sure were they of the importance of their message.
Of course it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women who are the first to have their lives transformed. Arriving at the tomb they find the stone rolled away, and the body of Jesus gone. Suddenly two men, two angels stand before them in dazzling white and say ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’. In that moment their lives change forever. These first disciples to witness to the ressurection have their lives changed forever. They rush back to the others, the others who had seen such miracles yet despite this don’t believe them as it seemed to them but an idle tale. Peter however runs to the tomb, sees the empty linen and is amazed.
Of course, as we will discover each week over the next few weeks, Jesus appears to the disciples. It is this moment, when the lives of all the disciples of Jesus change forever. It just so happened that all of them had seen the risen Christ and their lives are forever changed. The thing is that change wasn’t a one off event, it was a change through which they will learn and grow for the rest of their lives.
We can see how that ressurection seed planted in Jerusalem on this day 2000 years ago, continues to change Peter in our first reading. Here Peter is preaching to the family of Cornelius, a gentile and Peter has been on a journey to see that even the gentiles are included in the saving grace won at Easter. There had been debate among the early believers as to the place of gentiles within the Christian movement. Through the lens of the ressurection that he witnessed, Peter preaches how he now understands God shows no partiality as he recounts the story of our faith up to that early point. How God is welcoming all people, not just the Jewish people. But notice how he does so through the lens of the ressurection. He says how Jesus is the Lord of all and preached to the Jewish nation, anointed by the Holy Spirit. How he witnessed His work, His death and His ressurection and how He was commanded to preach and testify who Jesus is, the judge of the living and the dead, and how everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
Peter is growing in his understanding of the ways of Jesus, but is always anchored in the ressurection.
This easter, I would like you to go on a journey of discovery. It is so easy to simply get into a rhythm of faith without moving any deeper or further. If you think you have it all sorted, you are doing better than me, and dare I say, better than Peter did over his life. We are the people of the ressurection, anchored in that ressurection, but it is through the lens of the ressurection that we are invited to grow in understanding and love. For Peter, here we heard a moment of revelation for him as he finally understood the place of gentiles, as he looked through the lens of the ressurection. If you read the rest of Acts 10, you will see how God clearly led him to that learning. What is God asking you to learn today? None of us, not even those of us, or perhaps I should say especially those of us who have expensive theology degrees have all of the answers. We as Christians are invited to be anchored in the ressurection, but through the ressurection of Christ we are invited to grow in faith and love and knowledge of our Lord. Even someone like Paul, highly educated, very intelligent, from a good background. learnt to say ‘Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.
The question I would like to pose to you this day is, in the light of the ressurection, what growth is God calling you to? What way is God wanting to lead you? What do you need to learn or question? What don’t you understand? How are you to follow in this next season of your journey in faith, that is anchored in the ressurection of Christ?
The ressurection of Jesus at Easter was the central event not just for the people who witnessed it, but also for us today because it is the point around which our lives revolve. In that radiant light of Christ, how are you being invited to grow, as we continue to strive to share the Good News of the God who died and rose again that we might find life in all its abundance. Amen