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Come and See for Yourself!

Easter Day Sermon
Article posted on 26 March 2016 Leave a Comment

Acts 10.34-43
Luke 24.1-12

Ok, here’s my Easter sermon in 10 words,
‘He’s alive!’
‘You’re off your heads!’
‘Come and see yourself!’
There you have it, job done!

This is basically what happens but here’s an expanded version. The women visit the tomb, they have this incredible encounter, it dawns on them that Jesus is alive, they go and tell the disciples, the disciples don’t believe them… Those women eh! All emotional and imagining things probably! Peter decides to go and see for himself.

It’s the same story in ten words for our first reading from Acts 10. In fact, it’s the same story throughout the book of Acts. Peter stands and addresses the crowds. He tells them the incredible, frankly ridiculous, unbelievable message that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. The natural, reasonable, rational response is given at various points through Acts…
‘You’re off your heads or drunk or probably both!’
And the response to that is a kind of, ‘I know it sounds crazy but come and see for yourself.’
This has basically been the pattern that has been copied across the world through the centuries.
‘Jesus is alive; he loves you and calls you to follow him’
‘You’re off your heads!’
‘Yes, I know it sounds crazy, I’m embarrassed even bringing this up with you, but why not come and see for yourself?’

Jesus, during his ministry said much the same but in only five words,
‘Seek and you will find.’

I wonder how many of you here have done that journey at some point? For some people dramatically and suddenly and for others slowly and cautiously, they have, like Peter, undertook their own investigations. They’ve got to know the Christian community. Have been a bit bemused by the commitment and belief of these seemingly normal and rational people. They have learnt about the life, ministry, death and the supposed resurrection of Jesus, and somehow, unperceptively, God, faith, has got under their skin. At some point these words from our ancient creed have become their own,
I believe in Jesus Christ, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead and on the third day he rose again.

It’s an incredible, inner spiritual journey that is life transforming. It’s a faith that changes our perspective on everything, on all life’s Good Fridays, our personal ones of suffering and of grief and loss, and on our national and international ones, as through modern media, we are bombarded by events showing graphically both human evil and innocent suffering across the world.

Today is the first Sunday that we are enjoying our green heat here in the church. We’ve been through a few Good Fridays ourselves over the last few years with the REP. It’s good and right that we’ll be celebrating and thanking God for guiding and sustaining us through this journey. But we won’t then be sitting back, congratulating ourselves smugly, and leaving this place to become a dusty museum. The plan is that this Easter season be something of a turning point for us at St George’s. Not an about turn, but rather the beginnings of a shift of direction and energy. I can sum up this shift of direction in the same 10 words.
‘He’s alive!’
‘You’re off your heads!’
‘Come and see yourself!’

The REP was never an end in itself; it was a means to an end. The goal was and still is, to make the church a gift and a place to be inviting people to. ‘Come and see yourself!’ So, you can expect our focus as a church community to begin to change… Well actually, not begin to change but rather, continue to change, because some changes have already started over the past year as we’ve begun using the Alpha material and changed the format of one of our midweek services. Two important words as we look forward,
Invitation and Discipleship – ‘Come and see for yourself’

I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but intriguingly, the archbishops of York and Canterbury are launching, in the lead up to Pentecost in early May, an initiative called, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Here’s what they’re saying about it,
Jesus Christ calls every person to follow him.As Christians it’s our duty and joy to share that invitation.That’s why we are inviting every church in England to join a week of prayer this Pentecost,from 8-15th May — let’s pray for every Christian to receive new confidence and joy in sharing this life-transforming faith.

But just before I end, I have a question, How on earth am I expected to convince people of the resurrection? Here’s some good news; you’re not expected to convince people. It wasn’t the women’s job on Easter morning to convince the disciples. It wasn’t the disciples job to convince Thomas. It was the disciples job to convince the Jerusalem crowds. It wasn’t even Jesus’ job during his three years of ministry to convince his listeners. When people didn’t believe him, he let them go and he went and told others instead. Jesus, the women, the disciples, the early Christians, and we today are not called to convince people, but we are called to be up front about our faith and to say,
‘Come and see for yourself’ or ‘Seek and you will find.’ I’m not sure St Paul would agree with me as he went much further in his attempts to convince his listeners. But nonetheless, that sensible, rational people come to believe is something of a miracle every time. The convincing is the Spirit’s work within each of us. It’s the Spirit who draws us on, who tempts Peter back to the grave, to seek again. It’s the Spirit that spoke to the heart of the Jerusalem crowds, who spoke to my heart and to your heart. Why else would you be here at this unearthly hour?!

Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Alleluia!

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