Easter Sunday Sermon
Call to worship
Come and see, Jesus is not here, the tomb is empty, come and see, Jesus is risen.
Come all who are weary and sad, let us celebrate, for Christ is here, he is risen, hallelujah.
Come and see, Jesus is here. Let us worship the risen Christ.
Which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever.
Hymn 30(MP): Alleluia, alleluia give thanks to the risen Lord.
John 20:1-18 (The Message)
Hymn 295(MP): I serve a risen saviour
Hymn 357(MP): Jesus Christ is risen today.
Hymn 367(MP): Jesus is Lord!
Because Our Lord is risen: you are loved
Because the Father is speaking: you have purpose
Because the Spirit is working: you have strength
So leave this place, knowing that God is already out in the world before you, working away, and all he asks, is that you join him in his work.
His work within you, and his work is in the world, this day and forever.
The Bible tells us that the Truth will set us free.
The trouble is facing the truth may feel hard, maybe even too hard for us to face. Especially the truth about ourselves and who we are.
Let me start off with what other people see.
And to do that I want to use this balloon.
You see this balloon is us; very fragile. WE don’t think that very fragile is what people want to see, so we disguise ourselves so that we feel stronger, better, the kind of person that others would like to be around.
It is called SELF IMAGE, how we look to others, and that has become very important.
I haven’t brought an item of clothing for myself in years.
The reason for that is that my family are ashamed of my dress sense.
They don’t trust me to buy my own clothes.
The thing is, if I look bad, then they feel they look bad.
Personally I am not bothered.
In fact I see my terrible dress sense as being a really good thing.
1) Because as a mean Scots person I have realised that I don’t need to buy any clothes, my family are forced to do it for me.
2) Possibly one of the greatest things that ever happened to me happened because of my terrible dress sense. You see Roseanna took one look at me, and how I would go down the aisle and my shirts were terribly ironed, and she thought to herself, ‘Someone needs to sort that man out.’ And she ended up marrying me.
How others see us is getting more and more important.
There were more than 5,000,000 surgeries in America alone that had nothing to do with health, everything to do with look. The most popular, in order, being
liposuction, (+tummy tuck)
The thing is, it is not only how we look that is kind of false, it is also what we think that is kind of false as well.
Round about Christmas there was this survey that came out that stated that over 50% of people had lied about what they had seen on TV.
Well the majority of people care, they cared enough to lie about it to people they knew.
Why is this important?
Because at the heart of all this is the need to be known, to be loved, to feel significant. Because at the heart of us is the need for our life to have meaning, that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that others acknowledge that we have importance.
We constantly live with the fear that we are alone, that no one knows us or cares for us, that if we disappeared tomorrow then no one would notice.
We want others to like us, we want others to notice us, we want others to feel that we matter.
So we project an image of ourselves that is the very best that is us.
And it is a lie.
We want them to think that we are fully secure with ourselves.
We want them to think that our marriages are perfect.
We want them to think that our lives are perfect.
So we have face book pages that are crammed full of things that show our life is full and important.
We lie about what we watch because we want to be like the crowd that have watched the same stuff.
We lie about our CV’s and our qualifications.
We change our bodies and have fake boobs and fake waistlines and fake faces.
The trouble is that this creates a paradox.
We want people to love us, so we create this persona that we think people will love.
But when they love us we don’t get any benefit from that.
Because we believe that they don’t love us, they love that fake us. If they knew what we were really like then they might not love us.
So now we have a real problem.
We can either live with false love that we feel isn’t for us but for fake us.
Or live with no love because why would someone love us when they find out the whole relationship is based on a lie?
And you know what is even worse.
We do the same with God.
Even though we think God is all knowing, we have a pretend kind of faith where we convince ourselves that God should love us because we are such nice people. So we become the best form of nice that we can be;
hoping that just because we aren’t as bad as other people, then God will like us better.
But then we don’t think that God loves us either, because if he does love us, it isn’t the real us that he is loving.
What we need is a dose of truth.
So every now and again some of us will make the brave step of really looking at who we are.
And who we are is often a mess.
Under our pretence of niceness we realise that deep down we are a storm of emotions.
We have people envious of those with children because they have children.
At the same time we have those that are envious of those without children because they feel their children have held them back from enjoying the life they could have had.
We have guilt that we are not as generous or nice as we pretend to be.
That often when we do good thing we don’t feel as if we have done any good because we know we have done it for the wrong reasons.
‘I didn’t give to that charity because I cared about them or what they did I give because...
a) Everyone else was giving and I didn’t want to look bad.
b) I felt a bit guilty and I just wanted the guilt to go away.
c) I wanted to feel good about myself.
d) I could hold it over others that they weren’t as good as me because they didn’t give.
e) It looks good on my CV when I apply for jobs.
f) I can use it as a tax break.’
We can see the rest of the world as competition. There is only so much love in the world and if they are loved then that is less for us to get, and we need it more than they do.
So we get in the weird position that we want to get closer to others so that we don’t feel alone, but we are scared of showing them what we are really like, feel we are in competition with them and we don’t want them to get too close in case they hurt us.
I heard this wonderful illustration, originally it was from a guy called Thomas Merton.
He said that we want to get closer to others so that we are not alone. And it is like two hands interlocking. And that feels like closeness. And we want that, we want people to accept us as we are to be closer and closer to them.
The trouble is that the closer you get the more painful it feels.
So you want to get close but the closeness causes pain, sometimes the only way to feel less painful, to find healing, is to move away, which is the exact opposite of what we want to do.
He suggested that the only safe way to get close is to get try to get together, but to do it by coming alongside others, to be beside them in a prayer stance, often together pointing to something beyond ourselves.
But how do we do that?
The only way we will find true love, true acceptance, is if we go further into the truth.
You see many people look at this truth about ourselves and our flaws and think that they can’t live like that.
That it is too hard to live with and the illusion truth is easy to live with.
But there is another truth;
the truth of Easter Sunday.
We are not the pretend us, we are not the raw us.
We are the beloved child of God.
We are the child of God that God loved so much that he sent his own Son to show us the levels of that love for us.
This ‘US’ is so powerful.
Because we are loved unconditionally it changes us.
If we mess up it is not a disaster and a failure and proof that we are unworthy.
A mistake is just the jumping off point for starting again to be the person God made us to be.
We can learn from our mistakes, grow from our mistakes, but we are never defined by our mistakes.
In the first person we have to hide our mistakes because we are pretending to be perfect.
In the second person we beat ourselves up for our mistakes because we think our mistakes are who we really are, a sign of our imperfection.
In this person, our mistakes are just a part of living, and growing and maturing person and we accept our mistakes and move on from them.
We are not dependant on other people to love us, because we know we are loved, so we are free to be ourselves round them, and to accept them as they are, as a beloved child of God as well.
We can help them and encourage them because they are not competition, they are brothers and sisters.
An illustration I used earlier in the year is of the balloon, who thought he was useless.
And the truth was he just needed to be left in the hands of someone greater; who could see the greatness in them and help them achieve that, who moulded the balloon into something of beauty.
It was the true vision of the balloon that had meaning and purpose. If we allow ourselves to be modelled by God, we can become who we were meant to be, a beloved child of the living God, who walks with us and helps us every step of life’s journey.
this Easter Day we come together in joy, and in praise.
The sorrow of these last days has passed,
Jesus is risen, he is with us today, and forever.
Our joy is inexpressible, our thanks are too much for words.
On this day we come together remembering and rejoicing that though our saviour
was crucified, died, and was buried, he rose again, bringing joy to the sadness,
hope to the despair and praise to the discouraged.
Help us to carry this wonder with us, always, and never forget what you have done for us.
On this day, we come together with prayer in our hearts, and joyful songs on our lips.
Jesus’ promise is fulfilled.
Help us to take strength from the truth of the resurrection, help us to remember that though we each travel through our own times of trial,
though the darkness may surround us,
your light will always shine.
On this day, we come together, rejoicing in the gift of life,
sure in the truth of your presence within us all.
Help us to remember that our lives are to be lived in Jesus’ footsteps,
striving to love and to care for all whom we meet.
Give us the boldness to step forward in faith and hope, shouting with joy,
HE IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED.