EASTER SUNDAY SERMON 24 APRIL 2011
By Rev. Fei Taule’ale’ausumai Davis
Prayer: Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the difference you can make in our lives. Easter God, still our hearts and minds this resurrection Sunday that we might reflect on your greatness and the gift of life and life in all its fullness that you offer us. Amen.
I should be good at this by now don’t you think. But you know it’s never a piece of cake, or a walk in the park. If it was then where’s the challenge? I remember my father saying to me, the day you stop being nervous when you go to preach is the day you go alone. What do you think he meant by this? The art of preaching and leading worship means that we are dependant on God to inspire us and when we think we can do it alone then we are no longer dependant on this divine inspiration that we cannot do without. Sermon preparation for some is 10% perspiration and 90% inspiration, for Presbyterians it is probably more 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration because of the importance on scholarship and exegesis. I think its more half and half. This will be the 9th Easter Sunday sermon many of you would have heard from me, whether you listened the last 8 times is only important to you isn’t it. My job is to plant the seeds of hope to help nurture your faith and give you the tools to go and help make these words grow to fruition in your lives. Easter time is a season in the Christian calendar, but unlike summer, autumn winter and spring how is this any different? What new light can I shed on this time for you? What new experiences can you draw out of Easter for you this year?
I look very differently at verse 2 in the 28th chapter of Matthew. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; and an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. We are all a little bit more familiar with earthquakes than we’d like to be, more this year than last year. From amidst the tragedy and devastation of the crucifixion there can only come rebuilding, new life, picking up the pieces and finding the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Who saw the security footage showing the earthquake as it happened? I timed it was about 21 seconds and half the building had fallen down in that short time. A short time for a life time of change and challenge. Matthew’s gospel talks about a violent earthquake that rolled the stone away. I think we can understand a little bit more the truth of that verse.
We view life so differently after we encounter major life changing events in our lives. No two Easters are ever the same I believe. Who here can put their hand up and say that every year Easter is the same old same old? Life would be so much easier if it was that predictable. I know that some of you have changed addresses and are in new homes. I know many of us here have had life changing encounters with the crucified Christ this year and now you see the resurrected Christ in a new way. Sometimes our lives seem to be one long long walk down the road to Emmaus, we are consumed by the horrible things that have been happening around us in our lives, the loss of homes, jobs, health, mobility, relationships, strength, independence, love, hope has faded and we can’t seem to breath, it feels like we are suffocating, the desire to go out and do things is no longer there, the pizzazz in our step has gone. We think this Easter journey is getting too hard and we are getting tired of trying all the time and for what?
So what have you got to celebrate? You are still walking down that Emmaus road maybe Jesus hasn’t joined you yet. Maybe you haven’t been given the opportunity to recognize the living Christ right there before your own eyes. How open are we to listening, to stopping, to looking out for another voice to help us. In our times of crisis are we really open to listening to the voice that is talking to us? Can we see Christ walking with us, eating with us, journeying with us? What does he sound like, what does he look like, or should I say, who does he look like. Maybe he was here and I didn’t stop long enough to listen or look to recognize him? Often in our sadness and despair we hear words, words and more words and at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter who’s talking because it just sounds like constant babble, we give up listening, sometimes we too can be the person at the other end whose babbling away and we have forgotten to stop and listen to the person we are talking to, we fill all the silence with words, words and more words. What happened when the two people walking down the Emmaus road stopped to invite this stranger with them to dinner? They stopped long enough to see him break bread and suddenly their eyes where opened, they could really see and hear almost for the first time. You know what it’s like when you have been flying and your ears get blocked, I know that I have had blocked ears for days and life becomes disoriented. How many of you here are hard of hearing? Now if it is not too personal a question, how many of you here need to wear a hearing aid? How does it feel when the batteries are flat or when you can’t hear what’s going on? When you replace those batteries or you get much more sophisticated hearing aid what difference does it make to your life? What about those of you, who have had to have operations on your eyes, get new glasses? What a difference it makes when your sight and hearing improves. Well this is what it was like for these two Emmaus folk, they finally realized and recognized who they were walking and talking with all that time, it was Jesus the risen Christ. OMG all that time they were with him and they never knew it.
That is what Easter time is about for us, whether we are worn out Christians or brand new Christians or even Christians who don’t know what to do with your faith, Easter is a reminder for us to stop and reflect on our lives, the difficulties we have endured, the struggle and insensitiveness of the cross. It is an opportunity to own how life can be cruel and often downright unfair to us and to just stop and take stock of all this. This is where we journey with Jesus to the cross and this is our opportunity to sit at the foot of the cross and listen to Jesus say to us here is your mother, here is your son. You are not alone in any of this hardship, look here is your sister, here is your brother at least in my dying you have found one another to love and walk with you through these dark times.
Today is about hope and new life. New life because Jesus death has given us an opportunity to rethink what is important in life, what are some of the old things and habits that we have clung to that really aren’t so important after all? Isn’t it amazing how much we think we need until we move house and realize it was just cluttering up our lives. We learn in the end to downsize and hold on to the essentials in life. Today hope springs forth in Christ’s ability to reconcile, renew, and liberate us from ourselves. That’s what emptying oneself is all about, Jesus emptied himself on the cross and invites us to do the same.
This Easter morning is about celebration and giving thanks for the things that give us life and life in all its fullness. Throw away the baggage that weighs us down, get rid of the clutter in our lives and start to nurture those seeds that help bring life in all its fullness for you and those around you.
It shouldn’t require an earthquake for us to rethink what is important in our lives, we should take every day as an opportunity to give thanks for all these simple and basic things that we so often take for granted, hearing, seeing, smelling, health and those whom we have the privilege of sharing our lives with our husbands, our wives, our children, our parents our brothers and sisters and all of you gathered here this morning.
April 2011 to June 2012