Monday, April 01, 2013
Alive or a Vampire or a Zombie: Easter Day Sermon
A happy and Haly Easter to you all!
The controversial former Anglican Bishop of Durham David Jenkins cause controversy by saying the Resurrection was more than a conjuring trick with bones. He was a silly man but here he was spot on, though a little irreverant, though I am not convinced he was convinced the resurrection had much to do with flesh and blood, or even bones, at all.
Christ rose in the flesh, this is the Christian faith but the Ressurrection is far more than a remembered historic fact.
Today, Easter day, is about another Truth of the faith, it is about our resuurection. Christ descends to earth, to suffering, the Cross, death and even into Hell, as we say in the Creed so we might ascend into Heaven. "He came down so we might go up", "He died, so we might live", "He died so we might rise with him", "By dying he has conquered death". The ancient icon of the Anastasis which belongs to both East and West shows Christ descending into hell and grasping the hands of our first parents and leads them and righteous dead who died before him into heaven.
He, "the Resurrection and the Life" opens not Paradise but Heaven. Adam and Eve lost us Paradise but he has opened Heaven to us. We were enemies of God, rebels against his Law, strangers, foreigners, his death and resurrection has made Co-heirs, adpted sons and daughters, a holy nation, a royal priesthood a people set apart.
His Resurrection is for us even more significant than Creation for it is our Re-Creation, re-creation according to Grace, that is why we keep Sunday as our Holy Day, it is the day on which God begins creation, the first day of the week. The Resurrection is the beginning of mankinds recreation. The first was creation by nature but the re-creation is according the Grace, God's Free Gift, which is what Grace is.
Resurrection is not simply Life after death, after our last breath or even at the end of time.
It is Life here and now too. The saints were fully alive, they are our models. Many Christians today are far from saints, far from alive, even the Church herself seems only partially alive, sometimes like a body lying in ITU with a feint heart beat, or sometimes we are rather like Zombies, moving but more dead than alive, sometimes like vampires really dead but appearing to be alive, sucking the blood out of the living, and reality affecting other Christians with the contagion of not taking either the practice or the day to day living of the faith seriously.
Today's feast makes us ask, "Are we alive or dead", do we prefer the grave to the Life of Grace God offers us. Pope Francis in a sermon as Archbishop said that some people prefer their pets or cosmetics or a whole lot of other things to serving the poor. Christians who are alive want to serve the poor either by caring for their physical or spiritual needs. We can gauge whether we are alive by whether we do that: Is our relationship with Christ something we want to share or something we keep to ourselves imprisoned in the tomb?
The Pope speaks about a poorer Church, if it sold off every art treasure or chalice bought by the pennies of the poor, it would do little for the world but if Christians, Christians who are alive really used their own wealth, their money, their time, their skills for the poor, rather than merely worldly pursuits, then the Church would come life, then we would be the leaven that raises the dough, the light in the darkness of the world.
We, ourselves, as the Body of Christ, would be the Resurrection and the Life.
Do you want to be alive or do you prefer death?
Posted by Fr Ray Blake