Easter – It’s not Christmas!

John 20.1-16

 

light on the upward hill
light on the upward hill

 

Well, are you ready

to rush home

and open your presents?

 

 

 

 

 

Are itching

to get on with cooking

the turkey

with all the trimmings?

 

Are standing by

for the arrival

of the whole family

for a party of crackers,

paper hats, riddles and carols?

 

Are you thinking that I have,

at last,

gone off the rails?

 

Since, of course,

I am describing Christmas

not Easter.

 

 

So one final question –

why the difference?

 

Possibly, there is a range of reasons.

 

However, the most obvious

is rooted in Easter’ depth

on a personal level.

 

For, Christmas

is all about Jesus

coming in the flesh

for the whole of planet earth

and the whole of humankind.

 

Easter is rather different.

 

It is about Christ returning

for Mary personally,

it is about Christ returning

for Peter personally,

its all about Christ Jesus

returning for you and me

personally,

individually

and specifically.

 

Easter then

is less about celebrating

with fairy lights

and razzamataz

than celebrating

in the way

only quietness can bring.

 

In a nutshell, Easter is more profound

than Christmas.

 

Easter is about having

our name called

and meeting its caller.

 

 

How then

do we respond

to that call?

 

 

Well, it is rather like

the way

Mary Magdalene replied.

 

Since at that moment

in her life,

she had one pressing issue.

 

Because in the human Jesus

she had found affirmation,

consolation

and even a sense of salvation.

 

Put another way,

in the purple prose

of a slushy novelette –

Jesus had become

her whole world

and being.

 

Now he had been taken from her;

firstly by death

and then

by some apparent action

by party and parties unknown.

 

As a result, she must have been

near breaking point

as her grief

must have been overwhelming.

 

Then out of the blue,

she hears ‘Mary’

and she knows

she has been re-found –

Christ is with her still,

even in these

most miserable of circumstances.

 

Indeed, she has affirmation

of Paul’s promise

that nothing

in the heights and depths

can separate us

from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

 

Today, as with everyday,

we may know miserable circumstances

for ourselves

or we know them

in those we love

and those we meet.

 

And in each of these encounters

with hopelessness –

we feel hopeless.

 

They or we

may feel the anguish and despair

of the apparent certainty

of a closed tomb

or the uncertainty

of an inexplicably empty one.

 

Yet this season’s message

is to go on searching.

 

The response of Mary

to being called

was to go on looking.

 

The calling of our name

this Easter Day,

demands we too

open our eyes

to a rising possibility.

 

The gentle brushing of our souls

through the dawning light,

requests our seeing

of a new reality.

 

Since this season

above all others

confirms Jesus through his passion,

death and resurrection

is with us –

one with one –

on the days of ashes

as well as roses.

.

Something of this self-sacrificing,

risk-taking,

death-defying accompaniment

is illustrated in this story.

 

On 2 January 2007,

a man named Wesley Autrey

would be ‘Christ-like’

in way

we would not normally think of.

 

Underground,

with his two young daughters

in a Manhattan subway station,

he would witness

a stranger fall

, landing three feet

down on train tracks.

 

The stranger had a name,

Cameron Hollopeter.

 

He  landed on his back

and while no bones

were broken,

he was suffering

from an epileptic seizure,

and unable to stand up.

 

And to the rising horror of the crowd,

it was at that moment,

things went

from bad to worse,

for on the approach,

and right on time,

was the Broadway – Seventh Avenue train,

with no time to slow down.

 

Wesley Autrey,

who would come

to be affectionately known as

the subway hero,

would entrust his daughters

into the kindness of strangers,

and with only one thought,

he dove over the platform,

quickly covering Cameron’s body up,

and kept them both still

while the train,

with five cars attached,

passed overhead

within a millimetre of their lives.

 

Here then is why we celebrate

in the way we do.

 

For who needs

cake and turkey

to remember

that Christ has risen?

 

Who needs

party hats and crackers

to remember Christ

is here for each of us?

 

Who needs cards,

decorations and tinsel

to remember Jesus calls us

through every hour

of every day.

 

For that is

the longest lasting present

of them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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