Alleluia! Christ is Risen.
Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Reading: Mt. 28:1-10.

Dear One and all,

Normally my Easter Sunday morning starts with a gathering of folk on Jennicliffe for Holy Communion at about 0700. This year however, we are thrown back on ourselves and no gatherings are permitted. We are in a sense shut-up, imprisoned, in our homes and our freedoms curtailed. We cannot celebrate Holy Communion together as we normally do. We cannot be the body of Christ as we would normally be. And yet!

 

The angel says to the women in verse 5 'You have nothing to fear' and Jesus in verse 10 says to the women 'Do not be afraid'. Google and Logos tells me that the phrase 'Do not be afraid' or a phrase closely matching it, appears 365 times in the Bible. The women are the first to encounter the Risen Christ. All the fear, all the doubt and all the confusion are now dispelled and both the Angel and now Christ himself are telling them to let go of fear. They may have felt fearful of the Disciples. Jesus had appeared to what then may have been seen as the least significant and reliable individuals. Culturally, this was how women were viewed in those times. But now they were emboldened as they knew the truth; encouraged and rejoicing they brought the good news of the resurrection.

We live in times when we know fear. The spread of Covid-19 has brought the world to its knees. We fear an unseen adversary which has the capacity to kill without any compassion. This adversary debilitates young and old, rich and poor, black and white, it does not care. It kills and brings fear in its wake, as our daily death figures confirm. We fear for friends and family, our country and the world. And yet!

'O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?(1.Cor.15:55) St Paul proclaims the truth and this truth echoes down the ages to us today, even in our distress so that we might know:

 'Loves redeeming work is done, fought the fight the battle won...where O' death is now your sting, once he died our souls to save, where's your victory boasting grave ( Charles Wesley StF.298)

This is it, the essentials of Christianity distilled into a few words, that death is no more; 

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die
(John Donne: Holy Sonnet X)

The angel speaks to us and Christ emboldens us - Do not be afraid! For whether we live or whether we die, Blessed be God forever. The work of Christ has overcome the grave and our life is granted by that redeeming love.

May the Risen Christ bless you now and always,

As ever,

Simon.

Revd Simon H Leigh.
Superintendent minister: Plymouth and Devonport Circuit.