We celebrate that moment in human history when the stone was rolled away. A sign and symbol of the separation that exists between life and death. A grave-robber had come – but it was God the Father who had acted in human history to defeat death. Death is our greatest fear and worry – human death, but also the death of relationships, business, work, and hope. All of that was changed as a result of Easter. New creation. New life.
But the final line in the Gospel today is telling – the disciples did not yet understand the Scriptures. Perhaps that is still true.
The resurrection is about the transformation of human society. These things do not happen easily or quickly.
– It took 18 centuries for Christians to realise that slavery was wrong and had to be removed from society (a battle that continues – with more slaves now than ever before in human history – some 27 million) – even though there is clear teaching in the Old Testament as well as the New against slavery
– It took another hundred years before women were recognised as equal in dignity and the battle for women’s liberation began – again, even though there is clear teaching, particularly in St Paul, that all are one
– It took the terrible scars of the Holocaust that were the great blight of the 20th century for Christians to finally acknowledge and admit that the Church had deep anti-Semitic roots and had contributed to the many pogroms against the Jewish people and had systematically missed and ignored the deep Hebrew spirituality that is so deeply inherent in the NT
– It was Christians who were at the forefront of the civil rights movements, both in the US and here in Australia – but again this work to eliminate racism continues.
– It was only in the late 20th century that we began to realise and acknowledge that creation was a gift, and we were called to be stewards, not destructors of this incredible gift. We cannot continue to pollute and destroy our environment.
– Perhaps the great shame of the abuse and violence against children and the most vulnerable in our society that has begun to be uncovered in the past few decades will continue to humble the Church and lead to a more realistic and honest return to the ways of Jesus.
– We cannot tell how long it will take for other deep wounds that exist in our world to be transformed. The deep inequality that exists between nations; the power and role of women within our Church; the dignity and respect that is due to homosexual people. These are among many, many issues that cry out to be addressed within our world.
And it is only in the power of the resurrection that we are able to have our minds transformed and renewed so that we are capable of being bearers of the truly good news of human freedom through forgiveness and the defeat of death.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15)
Recorded at St Michael’s, 9.30am (6’55”)