Today, on Easter Day, thousands of people around the world are being baptised at this very moment.
Last night on Easter Eve, thousands more were confirmed.
This morning tens of thousands of people will be sharing in communion for the first time.
Today around one third of world’s population will break bread as one global family.
The day of Jesus’ resurrection is also the day of resurrection for his people. Today the church is renewed, refreshed, revived by the life of Jesus. Like flowers bursting forth in spring (what a wonderful display in church!) the church blossoms again at Easter.
Those newly baptised, those newly confirmed, those newly fed with the bread of life declare to the world that Jesus is alive. And as we join with them as we are renewed in faith today. We are gathered up in the irrepressible power of the resurrection. Today Jesus reaches out to rekindle our dormant faith.
The world cannot see the Jesus emerge from the tomb, but it can see his body on earth, the church, filled with life and hope. The reading from Acts this morning reminds us that after Easter Jesus is alive in the ministry of his church. Peter preaches the message about Jesus and the great ingathering of the nations begins in earnest. The hands and feet and lips and hearts of his people become his means of reaching out to the world. All through the Easter season we will have a reading from Acts as a reminder that the story of Jesus goes on and on in the life of the church.
The resurrection day is one of those ‘I told you so days.’ The two angels remind the women of the words of Jesus v6,7. All through his ministry Jesus has spoken of his own death and resurrection. One of greatest miracles was a resurrection, two of his greatest parables end with resurrection.
But the disciples had a very different idea of what resurrection meant. They had in mind a final, end of time resurrection for all people. For them the resurrection was a book end to history, not an event within real time, an event they would witness.
So when faced with the living resurrected Jesus, the mood is not pure joy, but surprise, astonishment, fear and confusion. It will take them weeks, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, to make sense of it all.
Today around the world, Christians have greeted Easter day with the same range of emotions. Already today bombs have been hurled at churches in Sri Lanka, religious tension is growing following the death of Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland, Easter Day in Paris takes place in the shadow of the burned shell of Notre Dame. Fear, confusion, surprise.
There is certainly a place for pure joy on Easter Day, but its interesting how Luke keeps the link to the cross of Good Friday strong in the telling of the story. V1 – the spices, the women – link us to the cross. Fast forward to the Emmaus Road and it is the nail marks that give away who Jesus is at the meal table. ‘Those wounds yet visible above, in beauty glorified.’
For Jesus, resurrection, means rising with the scars of sacrifice.
This is the way God is at work in our world and in our lives. Easter Day is not about God pressing a switch that makes everything ok. It is a foretaste of a final victory. In the book of Acts we see the church living with both suffering and success, persecution and power. It is a mix that we should expect in our lives.
God’s call to us in Christ is to go on hoping, persevering, believing, expecting renewal in the midst of difficulty, expecting miracles in the midst of despair. Jesus Christ, risen today, is the pattern and power of living faith. He takes up the raw materials of our lives and with us is building a new kingdom today and every day.