Easter Sunday Reflections

Easter Day

‘And he saw, and believed’

 

 

Oh blessed day, when our salvation is won. Today we come to the completion of our Holy Week journey. We have travelled here together from the triumphal entry, via the Gethsemane and the cross. We come together today to celebrate the great mystery of our faith, Christ’s resurrection.

I may have told you the story about Dr Morna Hooker, former Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. I remember listening to a lecture in my early days as a student by Dr Hooker on Paul’s view of the resurrection. At the end of the lecture, I asked Dr Hooker about whether Paul believed that the resurrection of Christ was physical or not, i.e. was the tomb, for Paul, actually empty. Dr Hooker’s reply was ‘well yes, but that’s not the point.’ At the time, I remember I was not very satisfied with the answer. As my undergraduate degree continued I continued to be very caught up with the question of history and the actuality of the resurrection of Christ. I spent many, many many hours in libraries reading everything I could about the history of the resurrection. Until, one day, Dr Hooker’s words dawned on me, and I understood, ‘that’s not the point.’ Suddenly, my eyes were opened, and it made sense. I stood at the empty tomb and believed.

 

To believe in the resurrection is to join in the narrative of generations of the faithful, it is to claim a history as our own and assert that Christ is king and Lord over all. The empty tomb stands as a stark reminder of who we are, where we come from and where we are going. I started the week by talking about our story being better than the narratives secular society tells about itself. We live in an age where there are many very very dangerous narratives that tell stories about society and who we are that are at best unhelpful and at worst dangerous. If we keep close to our story, and live by the narrative of Christ’s life death and resurrection we are able to see the secular stories for what they are, false gods of this age. We know our story to be true and know that, unlike secular stories, ours makes the world a better place.

Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 11th Century coined a phrase ‘credo ut intelligam’, I believe so that I may understand, I believe so that I may understand. Anselm understood that our understanding starts with belief, it does not start from anywhere else, inspite of what Richard Dawkins might think. We believe first and from there our understanding comes. We believe in the resurrection so that we might come to understand it, we believe in Christ so that we might understand. We see this in the beloved disciple today, he saw the empty tomb, and unlike Magdalene, did not assume the body had been moved, he simply believed. He did not understand, but he believed in order to understand. That is the essence of our Faith.

We come again to the sacrament of Holy Communion renewed by the resurrection of our Lord, we may not meet Christ at the empty tomb, but we will meet him in bread and wine, his body and his blood.


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