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Sermon at Evensong on Easter Day 2019

One of the most enduring images of this last week was the majestic golden altar cross seen glowing among the ashes of Notre Dame cathedral.

The Venerable David Stanton Canon in Residence

Sunday, 21st April 2019 at 3:00 PM

One of the most enduring images of this last week was the majestic golden altar cross seen glowing among the ashes of Notre Dame cathedral.

This incredibly powerful image was broadcast around the world as a quirky survival of fire, but became a powerful symbol of hope and resurrection.

There is no doubt that this historic cathedral will be restored to full glory just as our risen Lord has been resurrected to everlasting life.

It reminds us that Easter is the greatest feast of our faith. That through the pain and devastation of the cross we become people marked by joyfulness and happiness. 

Jesus is raised.  He has conquered sin and death. His victory is our victory. His death means our redemption. His resurrection means our salvation. 

How could we not be filled with joy and great happiness over such wonderful news?

Every genuine Christian cannot help but be transformed by the Easter event. All is changed:  darkness to light, doubt to faith, selfishness to generosity, despair to hope, sin to grace, and death to eternal life.

This is a time to remember the joy that Jesus is alive and that his resurrection can inspire hope and love in the world.

It is through the resurrection that people can be alive in Christ and respect and love others.

Jesus lives. This is the simple message of Easter. But in our happiness and exuberance we must also be committed to live out this faith with steadfastness and resilience.

Cardinal Basil Hume, when Abbot of Ampleforth, once counselled his monks: ‘Take life seriously. Take God seriously. But don’t, please don’t, take yourselves too seriously.’ There is a lot of truth contained in those few words.

Humour is one of the most important things in everyday life. It is through humour that we can really see and appreciate the best and most beautiful things in life: love and friendship.

It was St Thomas Aquinas who said, ‘There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.’

If you think about the people that you most enjoy being around, the people that make you happiest, and some of your favourite memories of being with those people, many of those times will involve humour and laughter.

For the first 1,500 years of its existence mainstream Christianity shared the conviction that the principal reason for being a Christian, or indeed doing anything at all, was to be happy.’

Indeed St Augustine, strongly believed that happiness and delight, was the mainspring of all human action, ‘For we must perform our actions in accord with what brings us most delight’; ‘Who can consciously embrace anything that does not delight him?’

Yet, however happy and joyful we are today, we know that tomorrow morning, the world will look just about the same as it did this Easter morning. Our world will still be wracked by bloodshed and conflict, and our prayers go out especially at this time to our fellow Christians in Sri Lanka.

Today we sing our Easter anthems but tomorrow violence, poverty, homelessness, greed, hatred, oppression and injustice will continue to plague our world.

But although we may not be able to prove that the hymns sung in thousands of churches, and the candles we have lit, have penetrated the dark corners where the message is so sorely needed, there is every reason for the music to continue and the candles to shine.

The light will not be extinguished; it will not be snuffed out. Far from it. We do not give in to darkness, because God's grace so wonderfully given to us in the victory of Jesus Christ leads us forward into new lives.

Each one of us has a part to play in God's fight against evil. Easter teaches us that we must be resilient in our Christian faith.

Resilience is all about being able to adapt and bounce back from stressful life changes, responding to tragedy and moving on despite the loss.

Resilience is the human heart’s ability to suffer and grow from it.

We see personal resilience every day in people who suffer handicaps, deaths of loved ones, and other losses.

When people refuse to give up on themselves and the world, even after misfortune, they are being resilient.

We see examples of national resilience, such as the response in France and around the world to the fire in Notre Dame that burned through a vest network of enormous centuries-old oak beams supporting the cathedral’s vaulted stone ceiling.

Indeed all our collections this Easter Day will go to support Notre Dame and the archdiocese of Paris, and more than that, the Dean and Chapter here will also match fund the total value of all collections here today. Do please give generously.

Resilience is all about full commitment to Christ and our fellow human beings.

The Church’s joy at the Resurrection of Christ is so great that it cannot be limited to one day or even several days but must be celebrated for an entire season.

The New Testament never simply says, "Remember Jesus Christ." That is a half-finished sentence. It says, "Remember Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

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