A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Easter Sunday 24 April 2011 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Act 10:34–43 and Matthew 28:1–10.
Do you like the festival of Easter? What does Easter mean to you?
Many people like Easter because there are a few public holidays. For some children, they like Easter because they may receive gifts like an Easter bunny and chocolate eggs.
For my part, I like Easter because I feel the spirit of new life. The image for Easter is the birth of a chick that coming out from an egg shell.
Easter is a time to remind us of the joy and hope of a new life. Today, Roy and Lisa take their second new born daughter to the church at KUC. We all share their joy of a new life, a precious gift from God, a new member to the family.
New life brings joy to the family, the community and the society. Very true! On the other hand, it is true, sometimes we need to think a new life in terms of the anxiety and worry that may be involved.
New life does bring anxiety! I would like to share my own experience of giving birth to my children. I have two children. When the second child was born, my husband and I had tried best to prepare our eldest daughter to accept her younger brother as part of us. The scene at home: The day that our son was taken home from hospital, our daughter was very upset. The coming of a new family member two years younger was a threat to her. While new life brings happiness and abundance to a family, there are people in the same family may find it hard to take and adjust.
In the gospel account about the resurrection of Jesus, the women who are close to him are scared. They are under a great fear when they see the empty tomb. How can a person become alive after death? This is absolutely unimaginable from a modern human point of view. But in the end, the women choose to believe the angel. According to the story’s description, ‘they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and told his disciples.’ When they are filled with joy and faith, Jesus comes to them and talks to them direct.
As Christians today, we have never met the Jesus of 2000 years ago. We did not witness his resurrection from death. Of course not! So why do we believe in Jesus Christ? Why do we choose to become Christian and adopt this Christian faith?
The disciples of Jesus Christ are called to become his witness. To witness Jesus means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who has healed the wounded and demonstrated solidarity to the oppressed and marginalized by the society.
Faith is more than knowledge; more than reason. From a scientific point of view, Jesus’ resurrection from the death is impossible to prove. Therefore, the significance of Jesus’ resurrection is the power of transformation that the risen Jesus has brought to his disciples and the world. The risen Jesus has brought peace to his disciples. The risen Jesus has brought joy to them. Jesus has brought to them hope as well.
Jesus is crucified on the cross. He has not committed any crime. His is treated very unjustly. But he does not use any violence to fight back. Instead of saying any words of condemnation, Jesus chooses to forgive. He prays to his Father to forgive those who hung him on the cross, “for they do not know what they are doing”.
The disciples are extremely upset and afraid for Jesus. The risen Lord brings great comforts and strong hope to the distressing disciples. Nonetheless, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has made an important proclamation to the world that violence and death will never win. Instead, it is love, forgiveness and peace that conquers and long lasts. The message of hope brought by the risen Lord is meaningful to all humanity in every generation.
We all know that suffering and pain are an inevitable part of earthly life. We have witnessed the chaos of the world and many human suffering in our midst. Just take a look in our world today. Poverty and economic exploitation have caused millions of children to die of malnutrition are part of life in many countries. The earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent radiation leak from the nuclear power plants in Japan have posed great threat to Japan and other parts of the world. Warfare in the Middle East and in Africa, the massive loss of life in Libya‒these examples is just the tip of the iceberg.
In view of all these human-made and natural disasters, people who suffer from or witness these problems are distressed. Without the hope of new life and new possibilities, I cannot imagine how we can continue our life and move on with courage.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is significant, and indeed a core faith of the Church. The risen Lord signifies the core faith elements of hope, peace and joy. Jesus’ was resurrected from the death. This conveyed to the world an important message of transformation: the transformation of life, a life being transformed from sorrow to joy, from despair to hope, from fear to peace.
The story of Jesus’ resurrection has been shared year after year, generation after generation. St. Peter in the Book of Acts is of the first generation who follow Jesus when he is alive, to share the good news and life of Jesus Christ.
It is the witness of the disciples in different generations that keep this gospel alive. One generation after another is nurtured and developed to share the good news of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. When we see our children in the church, we are delighted and full of hope as they will be Christ’s witnesses in future. Of course, whether they will become Christ’s faithful witnesses depends on what we have been doing and what we continue to do for and with them. The women who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus spread this good news to others, had a very close relationship with Jesus before he died. It is our responsibility as adults, parents, teachers, leaders in church to live out a life following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We must stay close to our children, so that they learn from us who Jesus Christ is and how he leads a life of love through us as his faithful disciples
As a community of faith in Christ, let us carry and live out this hope by bringing about a better world in which to live. Holding a deep faith in Christ, our risen Lord, will enable us to endure all trials, temptations, suffering and pain.
May Jesus Christ, our risen Lord bless you and keep you in hope, peace and joy.