COVID-19 · Sermon

Resurrection Sermon – 12 April 2020

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! 

The Lord be with you!

Every year on this morning the Church joyfully resounds with these words: Alleluia Christ is Risen!

These words are said as if they are being said for the first time. To be honest each year they are being said, for the first time because they are said with a renewed understanding of God and His Son Jesus Christ and the Cross and Resurrection and a new understanding of ourselves. 

All this comes from our journey through Lent and Holy Week and as we have prepared our hearts for today.  The Day of Resurrection! 

I wonder what expectations you have of this Resurrected Life. Is it an expectation of a return to normality, I love our Anglican Traditions but something that has always worried me is that in so many ways, we come to today and in a way breathe a sign of relief and say – its done for another year – LENT Holy Week – wow intense, now its back to normal. Ordinary time is the expression that we use.  My friends the Resurrection life is anything but ordinary! Jesus raised from the dead is anything but ordinary! The empty Tomb is anything but ordinary!  This year we approach today from a very different context and perhaps that newness that uncertainty that  unusualness is a wake-up call for us all. For many, as we prepared for Easter  we looked to today and said, “ its OK, we will be in lockdown nobody will be at church but  we will be saying those words like a welcome back see you soon! The extended lockdown robbed us of that delusion….  – now it’s like saying “Yes, Christ has risen and the Church is alive but you’re still stuck at home –  the impact of the resurrection is on hold, watch this space for further developments. But my dear friends this is the resurrected life. What you are experiencing today is the gift of God. Not the challenges but the ability to overcome them  -the gift of resurrected life, forgiveness of sins and new life in Jesus Christ.  You don’t need anything to be different, you don’t need the lockdown to be over, you don’t need your job back you don’t need a cure and a vaccine for Covid -19 – why –  because your salvation, your resurrected life is not dependant on any of those things.  Believe it or not you don’t even need a normal church service on Resurrection Sunday to receive the Resurrected life that Jesus offers. It is Mark who records the women’s  conversation as they were going to the tomb Mark 16: 3 and they were saying to one another “Who will roll away the stone for us…” 

My friends there will be thousands of sermons preached today on all sorts of aspects of the resurrection, but I want to share this one thing with you. We are all asking this question!

Who will ,how will the stone be rolled away?

How will I overcome the impact of COVID 19? How will I deal with the financial implications? How will we integrate back into society? How will we deal with the change? How will we deal with two more weeks of Lockdown? How will we deal with the school work that we have lost out on? How will we make up for the contracts that we have lost, the work that we have lost, and the stock market value that we have lost and the psychological impact of this Pandemic and the lockdown?

Who will roll the stone away?

Meditating on the story of the women in the passion Narrative has been a very meaningful journey for me this Easter. What struck me is how they stuck around. How they saw it through – women have an amazing ability to face life.  Men are to busy trying to fix it, trying to influence the story and roll the stone away themselves. But Mary and Mary and the other women never try to dictate what should happen, they don’t seek power for themselves they don’t seek to change the story, they just watch and listen and learn and weep and hold on and let go and come back dutifully and ask who will roll the stone away?

We live in a world were getting results is seen as our priority. Doing it for ourselves is seen as our priority. This pandemic has taught us a life lesson – if you want to fix the world… get out of God’s way,  you can’t heal it,  you can’t fix it, you can weep for it, pray for it, lament for it and trust God to heal it, trust God to roll the stone away! 

Too often we place ourselves at the centre of the story.  How does this impact on me, how will I deal with it, what should I do! This year again, I learned in the Easter story to wait on God. To sit at his feet and not have the right answers, the cleverly worked out path the tradition, the rehearsed, the normal.  I learned a whole lot of new things this Easter: I can’t say I mastered a whole lot of new things I still have to learn how to use all these platforms properly, but I learned that God opens doors where we can’t even see them. Not just this Easter but all my life….I’ve experienced the women’s experience as I walked along and realised that in my effort to do what was my duty to do, I didn’t know how I was going to overcome the obstacles… Everyday I’ve been asking “Who will roll the stone away?”  every day, I see the empty tomb,  every day I see that God is not where I thought I’d find him and he’s not doing what I expected.  The Resurrected life is a life of opportunity a life where God has rolled the stone away. And we don’t yet know what the future holds! We look at the tomb of the resurrection and it is empty, we look at what lies ahead and we cannot imagine what it will be like, we know that Jesus is alive but where is he, in this reality that we find ourselves. Scripture guides us into the next step. 

Matthew 28: 7 Go quickly tell his disciples that he is risen ;

Mark 16: 7 Go and tell his disciples;

Luke 24: 9 Returning they told all these things to the eleven;

John 20 :17 go to my brothers and say to them. 

And they did –The women told them and they, having heard, went and sought out Jesus and these same people who had abandoned Jesus, who had denied Jesus, who had doubted Jesus, became a formidable force for the Kingdom. One thing I am sure of is that God is at work in our lives and that he has one desire and that is the salvation of your soul. One thing I am sure of is that Jesus leads us through death to life, through struggle to victory. Today is the beginning of a new season and as we journey though the resurrection appearances of Jesus, we will see that the Scriptures reveal a pattern of God’s work in us.  Easter is the beginning of a chapter for us.  Today we stand at the empty tomb. We go inside and we see and are convinced that Christ is risen we have the linen cloth, we have Mary’s testimony of seeing the risen Lord! Therefore, let us not slip back into complacency or doubt. Christ is Risen the grave is empty he is not there. He is in you! And Through our relationship with Him and with our relationship in Him. We have this life to live!  A resurrected LIFE TO LIVE! The angel said to Mary Mark 16: 7 –  But go and tell his disciples and Peter that he s going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him just as he told you! I believe this with all my heart that Jesus is ahead of us and he will lead us and guide us and empower us and sustain us in whatever lies ahead. Choose faith not fear and live the resurrected life that God has given you! Amen.

Fr. Andrew

Listen to “Resurrection, Service 2020” on Spreaker.


Sermon on the Day of the Resurrection – 5 April 2020

When death occurs, the finality of the loss is so great that there is a denial of death itself. Like Anne, the widow of a French actor Gerald Philippe, who went to the cemetery to look for her husband:

“I went to find you, a mad rendezvous… I remained outside reality, without being able to go in. The tomb was there, I could touch the earth that covered you and without being able to help it, I began to believe that you would come, a little late as usual; that soon I would feel you approach me. 

There was no point in telling myself that you were dead. You weren’t coming; no you were waiting for me in the car. A mad hope that I knew to be mad, and still it overtook me.” 

When Mary, Martha and Salome goes to the tomb of Jesus they expect to make a rendezvous with death. I am sure they had taken a conscious decision that they will not lose sight of Jesus and they will make it their business to treat him as King, right up to the end. Perhaps things are easier for them because they are women. I assume their gender might have acted as a kind of cloak of anonymity to protect them from the kind of attack that Peter and other disciples feared. Perhaps the very fact that they had decided what to do is giving them a kind of strength and fearlessness. 

 It is very early on the first day of the week. It is still dark, the women have a plan, but it has loop holes, they keep asking each other who will roll the stone for us, having seen that the soldiers had rolled a big stone at the that trance of the tomb. As they get closer they begin to notice that the stone has been rolled away from the entrance of the tomb.  

If the other male disciples were thrown into terror and confusion by Jesus’ death, the women are utterly flabbergasted by the resurrection. The young man in white, who has so helpfully rolled the stone away, is telling them things that they cannot take in.  They were not afraid of death, or of handling the dead body of their beloved master otherwise they would not have come, but they are afraid of the empty tomb and the words of astonishing hope that are spoken to them. They had heard and understood Jesus talking about his own death, but apparently they had blocked out what he told them about the resurrection. So these women are given strict instructions to go and tell the men that did not come that he is going to meet up with them in Galillee. 

I am sure some of us one way or the other are sometimes astonished and confused at why we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and what impact does it have on our Christian journey. I know that it is hard to believe that life, transformation and joy are as much part of the world and its maker as death and disintegration. The Christian hope brought about the resurrection is not based on a kind of blind and meaningless optimism. It is the hope that indeed God is God and that he is the creator, the source of all life and nothing can make God not being God. 

This year we celebrate the resurrection knowing that it is God’s liberating love for his beloved son. It God’s response to the cross, his defiant answer to a world that hoped violence could keep Jesus in its hold.  In raising Jesus from the dead God raised every value that Jesus stood for i.e.  compassion, love, justice, kindness, accepting people where they are in their journey, unjudgemental spirit and all others you may think off. Every story that Jesus told, every preference that Jesus made, every purpose that Jesus followed. All this was given new life and new significance. 

If death had spoken a final word about Jesus, all what he stood for and did, would have been reduced to curiosity, a forgettable footnote in the crowded history of lost causes. God wanted to make sure that he had the last word and indeed he had the first.

The Father’s affirmation of Jesus in his resurrection is extended to us humans too. As Paul says in the second reading: “When Christ is revealed –you too will be revealed in all your glory with him”. We sometimes struggle to let some of that glory shine through, because of the things that halt us in following the Lord. We try to be good but evil takes over. We know the way of the cross leads to our doorstep and that we are challenged to take it. We know It leads us to the God who let us out of tombs, out of our misery. It leads to a God who says for goodness sake do not be imprisoned by your past, it was just a lesson, not a death sentence rise up and take on a new challenge. It leads us to a God who says to us you can do it, though it may seem difficult, though it may seem as if it’s the end of everything else, but you can do it. It leads us to a God whom we can exclaim:

“When I fall.. he catches me, when I am sad he holds me, when I cry, he wipes my tears, when I am broken, he puts me back together”

“He is my father, my Friend, my comforter, my Hero, my Redeemer, Jesus is my Saviour”

I hope this years’ celebration of Easter will unveil and dispel the confusion and questions people have at this time of the corona virus and all that is happening around us,  like it was dispelled from the women gathering at the tomb.

Bishop Monument