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Alleluia, Christ is risen, He is risen indeed
Revd Caroline Risdon, Easter Sunday 1 April 2018

In preparation for Easter, we held a series of Lenten talks, where we explored the Eucharist through time. We looked at the various threads that make up the service we enjoy today: the aspect of Covenant; the aspect of Temple worship; the work of the Holy Spirit and plenty more. 

But the aspect that has captivated my imagination over the past few weeks is that of remembering. Remembering is important. Indeed, each year in Church, we recall the events of Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter as they are recorded in the Gospels. Jesus entering Jerusalem; having supper with his friends; being denied and abandoned by them; being found guilty and sentenced to death; being raised on the Cross. 

But what is the point of remembering all this? Is it merely to go through the motions recalling an event that happened 2000 years ago to a largely unnamed group of people? No! Of course not. 

So what then?
The point is that in and through our intense remembering we bring the events of the past into our present. In and through our intense remembering, what happened 2000 years ago becomes today’s story, becomes our story. We are the ones who sit at dinner with Jesus, who deny him, who keep watch over him as he hangs on the Cross; who seek his body at the Tomb. 

And in remembering in this way, in recalling all that has taken place over the past week, we are transformed. We experience this each week, as we recall the Last Supper and share communion together. We are transformed by the bread and wine to go out into the world. 

But perhaps the best example of what I mean belongs to the disciple, Mary Magdalene. Her story happens to be one of the most beautiful and important aspects of the Easter story. 

When Mary visits the tomb to tend to the body of her beloved Lord, she finds the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Added to her tears of grief are horror and anguish- where is he? She sees a gardener and addresses him but it is only when he calls her name- Mary- that she knows him. She hears the voice of someone she loves; her heart is flooded with relief; and her whole perspective is changed. The impossible has happened; the man Mary knew to be dead is alive and has spoken to her. In that moment of recognition new worlds open up. The tears belonged to ‘before’; now it is ‘after’. ‘I have seen the Lord!’ 

What difference does it make that Christ is risen? I’m not asking what difference we would like it to make: perhaps we want resurrection to be the answer to all our questions, the happy ending to all our doubts and fears, the winding back of the clock so we can put things right.

But Easter is not like that. In fact, it’s the opposite. Easter winds the clock forward to the time where there will be a new heaven and a new earth, where everything we know is transformed. The Easter garden where Jesus comes to Mary and calls her by name – this is the paradise that an ageing, hurting world has looked forward to since time began. She thinks he is the gardener, and of course he is. The divine Gardener- who by rising on the first day of the week has begun to re-make creation and bring beauty out of ashes. Easter is the renewal of creation. It is coming, yet it has already begun: with Mary in the garden, with the disciples Jesus greets, with those who have not seen yet believed, with all who worship him and love him and follow him on this Easter Day.

For Easter takes our fear away, and gives us back our lives. We might think that the only honest response to the pain of the world is despair or helpless resignation. But Easter shines a fresh light on all that is wrong in life, all the suffering, all the agony, all the oppression, all the loss, all the pain, and then says: never lose heart, never lose hope, for in the resurrection of Jesus life begins again. 

This is Easter’s gift to humanity. This is Easter’s gift to each one of us. 

That is the point of all the remembering we undertake this week. We place ourselves in the garden where Mary stood. And where we were once afraid, we hear a voice calling us by name, announcing that everything has changed, hell is vanquished, death has lost its sting, the last enemy is defeated, a new day is dawning. 
Let us, like Mary, turn and say 
I have seen the Lord.

Alleluia, Christ is risen- he is risen indeed, alleluia!
Alleluia, Christ is risen- he is risen indeed, alleluia!
Alleluia, Christ is risen- he is risen indeed, alleluia!


Revd Caroline Risdon, 03/04/2018
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