Easter Holy Communion

“Gathered at the Table.”

The First Communion of Easter. 

Sermon

The First Communion of Easter

The great thing about resurrection is that you do not have do it for yourself.

Unlike every other great achievement in our lives, for which we have to plan and work and sweat and suffer setbacks and try again- the miracle of resurrection is something that God achieves for us and in us.

In the first recorded proclamation of the Christian Gospel: Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost; it is said quite plainly that “God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”   It was not something that Jesus was required to do for himself. God raised him.

More than once Peter quotes from the Old Testament- how God has promised to pour out his Spirit on all people; how King David trusted that God “would not abandon him to the realm of the dead.”  Now it is God who has raised Jesus Christ from death and set him free from destruction.

Resurrection is something we all need. Not only in terms of hoping for life beyond our mortal death but also from time to time in this life. When our faith is so low we think we might just as well abandon it; when a crisis in our life has left us numb and without ability to feel anything; when physical or mental frailty drains us of all joy in life; when a long series of disappointments leave us without hope that life will ever be worth living- at these times we need the miracle of resurrection. We need to be restored to a fullness of life.

There are many helpful programmes and strategies out there, designed to enable us to deal with things ourselves and to a certain extent we can help ourselves. But when you really hit rock bottom, you have usually exhausted yourself in trying. And you are cursing yourself because it seems that the harder you have tried to climb out of the dark pit, the more heavily you have fallen down. And you have lost the energy and the conviction to try again.

It is then that we need a greater power than our own to “raise us up.”  And the great thing about resurrection is that you do not have do it for yourself. Over and over again in the Bible and in the testimonies of countless Christian believers through the ages, we hear of men and women who have lost all ability to revitalise themselves, experiencing the deep and awesome power of God, the power of resurrection. God has reached out and touched their lives so that they can live and love and feel and think and hope and laugh again. Just as God raised Jesus, so He has raised the followers of Jesus.

Sometimes He has sent us angels to roll away the stone that is trapping us in the darkness of the tomb. Looking back, we can recognise them. The friends who stuck by us even when we took out our pain and misery on them; the Christian comrades who held us in prayer; the kind people we hardly knew who gave us a smile or did us a favour or handed us a small gift that managed to bring a smile to our face. These angels have opened the way for us to receive the power of God, the power of resurrection.

The women, on their way to the tomb, ask each other, “who will roll away the stone?” Answer- it has been done by God. The angels, God’s ministers did it.

The disciples are told of the empty tomb and exclaim “impossible!” How could a body so beaten and broken and pierced have managed to revitalise itself? Answer- it was done by God. God raised Jesus from the dead.

When we come to a point in life when we are utterly helpless and lifeless and we ask, as St Paul asked, “who will save me from this living death?” Answer- thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.