Monday, 6 April 2015

Sermon Easter Sunday 2015

Was there anything in the Gospel reading that was a surprise for you?  Everyone here knows that we have gathered here today to celebrate the empty tomb.  Jesus Christ is risen today; Hallelujah. In fact I invite you to join with me in that wonderful declaration: Jesus Christ is risen today; Hallelujah.

That being said was there anything contained in the reading that surprized you?  One of the principles I attempt to follow in my biblical study and reflection is; the Gospel should surprize you every time you encounter it—either reading it yourself or hearing it proclaimed.    I first heard this approach to engaging the Gospel from Fr. Bill Cliff, the chaplain at Huron College.  It is one that can be challenging but can be very rewarding.  The idea is to approach the bible with fresh eyes and let it speak to you anew each time—to make it the living word of God and not just an old, old story which does not speak to you.

Given that approach, how can we make this old, old story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ surprizing to us?  I heard an interview on CBC radio a few weeks ago that I believe may be of help exploring some surprizing aspects of the Resurrection story.

The person being interviewed spoke about how his son was completely enthralled by a video of the movie Pinocchio.  His son was five years old and he must have watched it fifty times. Now this is not terribly surprizing as any parent knows the experience of having to read a story to their child innumerable times and God forbid you try to skip any part of it.  The surprizing thing in this account was that the child was terrified by the part of the story where Pinocchio was swallowed by the whale.  As I recall. the Disney version of the story—which is the one the boy watched—it is easy to see how a young child could be scared by it.  The father, who is a professor of psychology, noted that his son was compelled to watch it despite being scared because the story was one which was archetypal in its structure and meaning.  It held meaning which resonated with his son on a very deep level. 

I believe that this is in large part what brings us back each year to travel the journey of our Lord and Saviour from his journey to Jerusalem, to his triumphal entry that we celebrated last Sunday, to his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and the passion of Good Friday, and now the triumph of the glorious resurrection that we celebrate today.  In this we have an eternal truth that resonates with us on a deep level.  We know that our Redeemer lives; the power of death has been defeated.

What then is the deep truth that compels us to hear the story and journey with our Saviour each year?  Again, let us turn to that story of Pinocchio.  To remind you this story is an account of an animated puppet, a puppet that is alive but is still a wooden puppet, and his journey to become a real boy.  This is the key to the surprize in today’s Gospel and for us in the Easter story.  The surprise is that Jesus has shown us what it means to be real people just as Pinocchio learned how to be a real boy.  Jesus revealed to us what it means to be fully human.  We have been journeying with Jesus in this Easter journey.  This is an introduction to becoming truly human.  To do that we must do as Jesus commanded and pick up our crosses and follow him.  This is not an easy journey that Jesus showed us.  It led him to the cross.  However, if we are to become the people that God intended us to be when God created us we must pick up our cross and follow him.

How can we possibly do that? Does it mean that we are all to be crucified as Christ was?  I believe that in symbolic ways we are called to that.  Again the key is contained in the story of Pinocchio.  Pinocchio was faced with the reality that when he told a lie—when he did not live the truth of who he was it was evident to all who had eyes to see.  His nose grew longer with every lie he told.  As followers of Jesus Christ our risen saviour we are called to live the truth just as Jesus lived out the truth of who he was. 

We are called above all not to lie to others but more importantly to ourselves.  If we tell ourselves that it does not matter how we treat others—that is a lie.  If we tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter if we cheat on our taxes—as long as we don̓ t get caught—that is a lie.  If we tell ourselves that I am not my brother’s keeper—that is a lie.  If we tell ourselves that the there is nothing I can do to help someone in need—that is a lie.  If we tell ourselves that it doesn’t matter that we don’t pray and read scripture regularlythat is a lie. 

If we live the truth of Christ in our lives we will become fully human well will become a real person as Pinocchio became a real boy.  We will know more fully the love of Christ in our lives.  We will know, truly know, that the power of sin and death has been defeated and we will live our lives free from that fear of death, the death of a thousand lies which holds us captive in its thrall.  That is the surprise and the wonder of Easter.   Jesus Christ is risen today; Hallelujah.

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