Meditations, Reflections, Bible Studies, and Sermons from Kowloon Union Church
A sermon preached at Kowloon Union
Church on Easter Sunday 20 April
2014 by the Rev.
Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Matthew
God of eternality, we thank you for your love given
through Jesus and your Word that nourishes our life. May the holy spirit
inspire us to understand your Word and lead us to be one in you. Amen.
Happy Easter! In our world today, Easter is a joyful festival
for many people to celebrate. We have holidays, good programs and good food to
Easter is an important festival to celebrate. However,
without walking with Jesus in his passion and come to see his scars and pains,
our celebration of his resurrection would be very superficial and shallow.
The escalating political conflicts in Ukraine have
caught the world attention in the past few months. Last month, a Malaysian
flight carrying over 200 passengers disappeared. Last week, we heard the heart
breaking news from South Korea, a ferry carrying hundreds of students sank.
For people who have experienced the death of beloved
ones, serious illness, violence and persecution, they are like living in a tomb
facing complete darkness.
What does Easter mean to them? Can they really enjoy
and rejoice in this festival?
Christians celebrate Easter because Jesus has risen
from death. Jesus is no more enslaved by the power of death. He is free and
liberated from darkness.
Yes, we celebrate Easter, and yet we never ignore the
suffering and pains of Jesus Christ. Instead, we embrace it and take it as a
very important part for Easter. Only when we are deeply walking with Jesus in
his passion and share his pains and suffering would our celebration of his
resurrection be deep and real. Jesus died two thousand year ago and thus we are
not able to witness his physical pain directly. But in ours and in people who
are suffering today, we see Jesus’ pain and his presence in us and in them.
Easter is joyful
and happy not because there is an absence of pain and suffering.
Jesus had pointed out clearly that in this world we do
face difficulties and challenges. As quoted from Gospel John 16:33b, Jesus said
to his disciples:
‘In the world you face persecution, but take courage,
I have conquered the world’ . This is the promise of Jesus Christ. In the empty
bomb, the word of Jesus is fulfilled.
Therefore the celebration of Easter is not to ignore
human suffering and pains. It is never to forget injustice.
The celebration of Easter is to affirm our faith in
Christ that no one can take away our life, joy and hope in the midst of uncertainty,
insecurity and persecution. Like the women who saw the empty tomb, they were
filled with deep joy although at the same time they were afraid.
Tomb is a place to keep dead bodies.
Tomb is symbol of death and darkness.
This morning we processed into the sanctuary. We broke
the tomb as a symbolic act to proclaim the resurrection power of Jesus. It is
an act to praise the Lord. It is an act to speak to the world : Christ is
risen, He is risen indeed alleluia.
With this proclamation -- Christ is risen, He is risen
indeed, alleluia…, we affirm that the living God is forever living in us. The
living and loving God is forever living in the world. Jesus Christ, our
incarnated God, our saviour has overcome darkness and death in the world. In
Christ, we are no longer living in the darkness of the tomb. We are set free to
see the light.
In the empty tomb, death has no more power. But it is
life that speaks. It is joy that speaks. It is hope that speaks. It is the grace
of God that speaks.
about transformation and change
Last Friday I read a very touching story about
forgiveness from face book and South China Morning Post.
It is a real story that happened in Iran. A young man
called Balal killed another young man, when he was in his 20s. According to the
Iranian law, the murderer has to be hanged to death and the victim’s family
will participate in the execution by taking away the chair on which the murderer
When this young murderer was about to be executed, the
victim’s mother came before him and slapped his face. Then amazing thing
happened. This woman and her husband helped to remove the noose from this young
man. They forgave this young man who had killed their son.
The mother of the killer and the mother of the victim
then sobbed in each other’s arms – One because she had lost her son, the other
because her son had been saved.
This is a very touching moment.
The mother and the father of the victim chose to
forgive. The father thought this young man did not intentionally kill their
son. He was just too young and did not know better to handle a knife. According
to the victim’s father, they eventually forgave this young murderer because his
wife dreamed of his son who told her that he was well and happy. Therefore she
did not have to take revenge.
Out of love to their son, these parents chose to
Out of love to all humanity, Jesus chose to forgive
those who have sinned against him. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he
prayed to God the Father to forgive them for they did not know what they did.
The radical love of forgiveness in Jesus has tremendous
power of transformation.
Love and forgiveness is the essence of Easter. It is
love that brought new life. Look at the Iranian parents who have lost their
son. Their forgiving act has saved the life of Balal, a young man who was once
a murderer, a man waiting for death.
I believe also the parents who chose to forgive have
brought to themselves new stage in life. They forgive because their son who was
the victim forgives first as he told his mother in a dream not to retaliate but
to forgive. Forgiveness helps people to let go of their sorrow and hatred.
Easter is about transformation – the tomb we have in
the drama here was transformed from a black tent to a colourful tent.
If the tomb is our heart and is our world, by the
forgiving grace of God, let us transform it from death to life, from sorrow to
joy, from hatred to love, from fear to peace.
Jesus died for love. But He was raised again and he
has call his disciples to go and tell
about his resurrection, and be his faithful witness. Mary and the other women were
the first batch of disciples to witness Jesus Christ and subsequently the male
Sisters and brothers, as we have graciously received
the lavish gifts of forgiveness by God in Christ and our lives have been
redeemed, shall we share this good news with others so that other people will
experience also God’s redeeming love and transforming power?
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!
May the spirit of Easter prevail!
May God bless you all a joyful Easter with life and
hymn: Lord How can I repay
another Mary, the first witnesses of Jesus Christ’ resurrection were called to
go and tell the news to his disciples.
his disciples to go to Galilee and he would meet them there.
receive the great gift of new life and redeeming love from Jesus Christ, let us
in respond sing to God what we want to give as a return for his grace. You may
remain seated in your seat when we sing this song – How do I repay?
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