A sermon preached
Reading: Matthew 28:1-10
'Ruins of Holyrood Chapel', by Louis Daguerre (1787-1851)
Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal
describes a roadside rubbish dump just outside a monastery wall –
“Behind the monastery, down by
there is a cemetery of worn out things
there lie smashed china, rusty metal,
cracked pipes and rusty bits of wire,
empty cigarette packets, sawdust,
corrugated iron, old plastic, tyres beyond repair:
all waiting for the Resurrection, like ourselves.”
[“Marilyn Monroe and other Poems, Search Press 1975, p 60]
if you feel washed up and useless –
a bit of garbage tossed up on the scrap heap of humanity, good for nothing –
well here is the Gospel message for you this Easter Morning:
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
And in his Risen Power
tarnished image of God may be made bright again in each human soul,
and the broken, rusted scrag ends of humanity made anew in his likeness.
It is said that when in the 17th Century
the old St Pauls Cathedral was destroyed by fire,
the young architect Christopher Wren went to survey the ruins.
The place was devastated.
But as he made his way amongst the smouldering ruins,
he picked up a stone -
And he saw that it contained part of a Latin inscription -
the word was "Resurgam" - "I shall rise again".
Wren went on to design the new Cathedral,
and over the south door he had the word inscribed beneath a carved phoenix.
A symbol of new life and resurrection from the ruins.
And on this morning I ask you to reflect on your life:
there parts which, morally, spiritually or physically,
which have fractured, which have fallen apart??
your life a perfect temple of the Spirit,
or do parts of it sometimes seem more like a pile of rubble? –
Look closely at the ruined parts of your life
& see on each stone the Gospel promise:
Resurgam: I will rise.-
not Jesus say of his own body,
"In 3 days I will rebuild this temple"
miracle of resurrection is one
which God works in every life if we will but let him.
And its not just a future thing – it is a present thing –
“I am the Resurrection and the life” says Jesus
Resurrection life for the Christian is something which
begins right here and now -
Easter isn’t just about the defeat of death at the point of our funeral -
It’s the celebration of the life – the Resurrection life –
which is available for us to live out right here and now at this very moment.”
you know Dostoyevski's novel "Crime and
It is about Rashkolnikov. a murderer, and Sonia –
a poor woman who through poverty has been reduced to prostitution.
But in all her humiliation and degredation,
Sonia is kept going by her faith -
In the midst of their troubles,
Sonia reads Rashkolnikov the story of Lazarus from John's Gospel.
Later he is sent to a Siberian prison camp.
Sonia follows him.
Under his pillow he places the NT
from which she has read of the resurrection -
And there the novel ends –
with as the author says, a new story about to begin –
"the story of his gradual regeneration,
of his passage from one world into another,
of his initiation into a new unknown life"
His life was in ruins, and he thought all was
but through Sonia's faith and love and prayer.
the Risen Christ works his redemptive work
and in the dark and dank prison cell
new life begins.
And that is our Christian calling –
to be a channel of Christ’s new life
in the dark and ruined world of those around us.
70 years after Dostoyevski
wrote “Crime and Punishment”,
Julia de Beausobre found herself in Stalin’s camps –
tortured and imprisoned.
Later she was asked how she survived.
“It was simple really” she said,
“I tried to love my torturers;
because if I loved them
I would not be adding to the evil in the world by hating them.
And if I loved them,
it could just be that that it might have some effect on them,
reducing the evil they did and reducing the amount of evil in the world.”
(Eric James “Word over all” SPCK 1992 p 128)
Maybe that tells us something of what it means
to live and share the resurrection life-
Not only at the point of our
but in the midst of our earthly life.
Bringing the power and light of
Christ’s victorious love
into the darkest parts of existence.
Last Thursday was the 25th Anniversary of
the martyrdom of Oscar Romero,
Archbishop of San Salvador, champion of the poor,
gunned down at his altar by the fascist death squads of El Salvador
on 24 March 1980.
Days before his murder he told a reporter,
"You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me,
that I forgive and bless those who do it.
Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time.
A bishop will die, but the church of God,
which is the people, will never perish."
That is our Easter challenge -
to be a part of God’s life giving people,
militant on earth, triumphant in heaven,
who have met
the Risen Lord, and know that come what may,
”neither life nor death, nor angels nor principalities,
[nor Gulag guards nor Central American death squads]
nor things present nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in the whole of creation
will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-9)
Do you know
· a rubbish heap,
· or a prison,
· A ruined life,
· or a tortured soul,
· Someone shackled by the heartlessness or greed of others,
Someone whose life has been shattered
by their own sin or the selfishness of others?
Have you seen the gates of hell
slammed shut in your land, your city, your life??
But do you not see Mary and Peter and John running towards you?
Do you not hear their cry?
stone is moved, the tomb is empty,
he is risen!!
Let us this day run and shout and dance with them!
And oh what joy
if just something
of the light of the Resurrection
might in God’s power
be reflected through our lives
Into our dark and broken world.