Easter Day Sermon 1st April 2018

SERMON for St. Erme and Ladock EASTER DAY 2018

Acts 10: 34 – 43    Ps 118: 1-2,14-24   1. Cor 15: 1-11      John 20: 1-18

 

I wonder if you have been April Fooled today! 

Or played a prank on someone ….    ??

 

The first of April some do say,

Is set apart for All Fools' Day;

But why the people call it so

Nor I, nor they themselves, do know…

18th century folk rhyme

No-one really seems to know how the Day originated:  some think with Chaucer in the 14thC, when he wrote about a fox playing a prank on a rooster. 

In some parts of Europe, 1st April is known as April Fish Day because there are a lot of fish in French streams and rivers around 1st April, and they are easy to catch - foolish fish!

Sometimes it can be difficult separating the foolish and fake news from the wise and true - and not just on the 1st of April !

And this is a challenge for would-be followers of Jesus Christ. 

We celebrate Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection this year is on April Fools’ Day!

St. Paul writing to some of the first Christians in the city of Corinth, acknowledged that it can seem foolish to trust that, when Jesus died, he put us right with God. 

So nothing new there then!

Simple as that:  when Jesus died, he put us right with God.

 

I like to think of it like this:  Jesus’s arms, outstretched on the cross, held God in one hand and us in his other, and he drew us together – we had been separated by our turning away and going our own way. 

It seems improbable and unbelievable – even foolish -  but it is the experience of many down the ages to find amazing forgiveness and peace when this is acknowledged and taken on board.

We heard how St. Peter recounted to Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, just what the life, and death and resurrection of Jesus meant: he comes to this conclusion; he says,

All who believe in him receive forgiveness. 

 

We remember how important forgiveness was to Peter;

he had denied Jesus 3 times just before the crucifixion. 

There was no doubt now in Peter’s mind that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and given Peter a new start and a new commission.

St. Paul’s experience was similar:  persecuter turned preacher – the simple truth, he says, is that Jesus died for us and that he was raised again, and this is what we must proclaim.

Same for Mary Magdalene – someone who had lost her way in life, but is trusted as the first preacher of the good news.

I remember when this truth of forgiveness and new life came home to me and the tears of joy that flowed. 

I wonder how it was for you …..  perhaps a sudden flash of light, maybe a growing awareness of this basic foundation for life – to be loved and forgiven, to share God’s life, and his purpose for yours.

 

The resurrection that we celebrate today, confirms the truth of Jesus’s life and unique death.

It can sound like an April Fools’ trick. 

The first people to visit Jesus’ grave found it empty, and they thought it was some sort of trick or mistake. 

But the body of Jesus was never produced to refute his resurrection.  Many people met him alive again.

 

In addition, meeting the risen Lord Jesus empowered his followers to spread this good news far and wide, even though this led to death for many of them – not something people are likely to be brave enough to face for a lie or trick.

We don’t, of course, have all the answers worked out about life and death and resurrection; but once we dare to put ourselves in God’s hands, we discover how wise and powerful the simple message of Jesus is in our lives:  forgiving us, changing us, motivating us, bringing out the best in us (and dealing with the worst!).

This is something to celebrate every day, and especially this year on April Fools’ Day!

 

Jesus sent out his first disciples to be ‘fishers of men’ – to catch people and draw them into his kingdom. 

I wonder if any of you feel the tug of God’s fishing rod, reeling you in today …. 

What better day than April Fish day to be brought to where you belong, and start swimming with the risen Lord Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

PRAYERS

Heavenly Father, we pray today for your Church to be bold in preaching the good news of Jesus.

Thank you for those who helped us to discover you for ourselves.

We pray for those persecuted for believing in you.  Would you please sustain them, and draw others into your kingdom through them.

 

Loving Lord, we pray for the countries of the world.  We ask that they would recognize you as their Ruler, and draw on your truth and wisdom. 

 

Compassionate God, we bring to you all who suffer in body, mind or spirit.  Please comfort them with your healing and peace.  Thank you for the hope of resurrection life for all who follow you through death and on into eternity.

 

Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for our families and friends, and all who enrich our lives.  Please bless them today with your peace and your purposes for their lives.

 

 

 


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