Easter Sunday – April 4th – Rev Alison Way

Reflection Video for Easter – https://youtu.be/Oc0fbY2LDn8

Tiny Church Video for Easter – https://youtu.be/SAJJ_gnapcI

Via this page you can access Church of England Easter Day online worship  https://www.churchofengland.org/media-and-news/join-us-church-online/weekly-online-services/worship-home-easter-sunday-and-holy

Acts 10:34-43, John 20:1-18

In the name of God, loving and almighty Father, risen and conquering Son and ever present Holy Spirit Amen

I am going to teach us all a poem today, which captures why Easter is so important to us. As we get to know one another, we will come to realise that poetry is not really my thing in the normal course of events. I appreciate for some poetry is the bee’s knees, but I regret to say it is all usually a bit lost on me!! Any way, this particular poem that caught my eye is very simple and straightforward. It is not riddled with the complicated stuff of poetry like allegory, imagery, irony but it is still really profound. As we start smelling rats about what I am saying, I have to say as poems go this is probably one of the shortest and most memorable I have ever seen. It only contains 4 words spread across 4 lines. There is one more final added bonus – It was also written by a Bishop (one John Pritchard, who was Bishop of Oxford) and therefore must be OK!

Enough I can see we are chomping at the bit to hear it. Let’s reveal it one word at a time. Are you ready……..

So the first word is God. What a great place to start with God. God, all powerful, almighty, awesome and all love – God whose very being is love and who has abundant love for all he has created. Love poured out on each one of us here. Love that is all things and in all things and beyond our confines of time and space. God is love that nourishes us and wants us to grow into his cherished children. Each one is unique and special.

After that great start – the second word in the poem is Resurrection. So it goes God, Resurrection. That is very much a theme of this day – But resurrection is SOOOOO much more than just a theme. The resurrection of Jesus is a reality that changed everything, once and for all and for ever. God in his love for us sent his son Jesus to us, as a vulnerable child to change the order of things decisively. Jesus walked about amongst us, truly human. Towards the end of his life shared with those around him how God loved us. This threatened those in power, who contrived to have him put to death. Jesus then died for us on the cross, but on the third day he rose again, and lived in a new way. A way that enabled us to have real relationship with him and through him to know our God of abundant love through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus left with us

What comes next in the poem is the most surprising word. That is the word WOW!! It is important when saying the word WOW to use some technique – with a definite softer w at the beginning and end – (with a crescendo and falling on the ow). So it is God, Resurrection, WOW!!. According to my dictionary WOW is an informal word that is used to express wonder, amazement, or great pleasure, or an outstanding success. I think probably both of those meanings apply here with God and the power of the resurrection we have both – Wonder and outstanding success.

In the gospel reading the other disciple and Mary experienced amazing WOW moments at the tomb on the first Easter morning. Turning our attention to the other disciple first. After Mary had found the stone rolled away and had gone to fetch Peter and the other disciple,  they had run to the tomb. Not a Sunday morning jog I suspect, but a serious sprint. For the other disciple – out of breath as we can imagine he must have been. Even though he did not see Jesus at this point, in the atmosphere in the tomb with the discarded grave clothes, there was enough for him to see and believe that Jesus had risen and walked again amongst his disciples. A serious, powerful WOW of wonder

Moving on to Mary her WOW moment is even more dramatic. First early in the morning, she sees the open tomb. She goes to get help, but the disciples she fetches don’t really seem to help her. She is left alone crying outside the tomb. She then first encounters the angels (amazing enough!) and then Jesus (without realizing who he is). There is little doubt that Mary would have been deeply distressed at the turn of events before she recognised Jesus. I can’t speak for you but I find when I am upset, and distressed or been having a difficult time (as Mary had!) I don’t see things very clearly. I get in a muddle more easily and generally it is like living life in a thick fog or cotton wool for brains!!!

Today we also have to remember that we have hindsight – which may not be helping us. We know the story, we know the ending, that is really different from being in the action as it unfolds. But let’s shake off any fat cat complacency we have today, Resurrection on this scale is not every day – it’s a one and only – an earth changing experience. Resurrection is a pure unadulterated WOW!!!!! So let’s not judge Mary for not recognising Jesus, but concentrate on her WOW moment. When it comes it comes simply when Jesus says her name – Mary. This is a very intense, intimate and life-changing moment for Mary and it demands action and response. Once she has recognised Jesus, she moves to embrace him, and then quickly and without delay she went back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples she had seen the Lord.

These biblical WOW moments – the other disciple and Mary’s are upon them without warning Things are not the same afterwards. I think that is the kind of WOW, that John Pritchard was getting to in his poem – God, Resurrection, WOW!!! I hope that at some point during today or over the past weeks we have travelled the road to the cross, we have all had some kind of WOW moment or even multiple such moments. Moments that have made us think. Moments of realisation of something new or different in the  love God has for each of us. Moments that have confirmed to us all the God has done for us through the death and marvellous resurrection of Jesus to take away our sins. Moments that have brought us closer in our relationship with God and that have brought that warm glow into our hearts deep within, hearts on fire with God’s love for us. Also, moments when we have felt deeper resolve to share the good news with others. I hope we will all treasure our own WOW-moments as the other disciple and Mary did and use them to reaffirm our commitment to God and to add spring in our steps as disciples. So that above all we can say in our hearts and in our lives – God, Resurrection, WOW!

And then the final word of the poem, which is as indeed it should be Amen. So, the full thing is God Resurrection WOW!! Amen. That’s fantastic however I feel a ‘but’ coming on. That’s fantastic BUT like Mary we need to carry this message out from here and in our hearts to fulfil that Amen. Remembering that Amen means so be it! This is what our #Livelent Lent study has been all about too – sharing the good news. So today rejoicing and every day let’s live it, breathe it in and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

God Resurrection WOW!! Amen

The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 #LiveLent God’s Story, Our Story – Stephen Hance

(Church House Publishing) – Poem from Living Easter throughout the year – making the most of the resurrection – by John Pritchard, SPCK 2005.