Easter 3C – preached in Sutherland’s River & Thorburn NS – April 14, 2013

The events of this past week remind us of the difficult nature of our existence.

We have been brutally reminded that many young people in our time

are forced to deal with issues that are beyond their power to master.

As a result of her despair, a young woman has taken her own life –

despair should not be in the inventory of emotions for anyone, never mind our children.

 

Our traditions and our institutions have not kept pace

with the changes in our behaviour towards one another.

There are calls for change, for justice, for compassion –

all of which will fade into the distance; that is our habit.

It is all well and good to call for a “…return to traditional family values…” –

However, since we’ve come to the point in our history

where some teenagers become predators,

and others are haunted to death by their inability to find comfort,

perhaps we have gone too far to be rescued by a return to a time of black and white television (with only three channels), stay-at-home mom’s with compliant children, and all the other typically wonderful memories that we imagine might be our salvation.

We maintain an image of ‘the good old days, when none of this ever happened…”

 

Except that it did happen.

Sexism, and abuse; opportunism and indifference –

each of these is a part of our human character – as old as time.

We name these traits (and others to numerous to mention) SIN.

 

The powerful have always terrorized the innocent –

the weak have been advised to “stay strong”.

And the church has not been part of the solution.

We think that we have tried – we rail about the “loss of values” –

we bemoan the fact that no one listens to us –

but because we are afraid

(and because we are affected by the depravity and the misery

that meets us in our daily experience),

we really don’t know what to say, or how to say it.

 

We are still celebrating the great festival of God’s victory over human stupidity –

we call it Easter – and yet we can’t bring ourselves to address the needs of our neighbours, the fear of our friends, or the despair of an entire generation.

We have been largely silent in the face of the tragedies that surround us.

We don’t need to be.

 

Our Scriptures are full of examples of our sin,

even among those who would call themselves the children of God,

But the purpose of the Bible is not to remind us of our sin;

we need no reminding, to tell the truth.

The purpose of Scripture is to reveal a way through the brambles of our sin.

In these pages we find sin overturned, and God revealed in brilliant glory,

in spite of and in aid of those who cannot bear the constant state of human depravity.

 

Sometimes that revelation comes in an unexpected way –

and through one whose path seems bent on something contrary to God.

 

Saul had a commendable background.  He was a disciple of the man who counselled patience and prudence where the followers of Jesus were concerned, remember?

38So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” They were convinced by him…”[1]

 

Saul does not share his mentor’s conviction,

and becomes a persistent persecutor of the followers of “the way”.

He is granted authority to actively pursue and punish those who follow Jesus –

you know what happens to Saul.  He meets Jesus.

 

Against all odds, and in a remarkable fashion,

Saul is confronted by the presence of God in the world Risen and Glorious.

Not just the practice of the law – not just the tradition of the covenant –

Living, acting, life-changing God, in the person of Jesus, the crucified,

appears on the highway and Saul is struck blind.

Blinded to all that he is or was,

his eyes are opened only when he understands

what he could be/what he will be in the power of the Spirit.

 

I have always believed that a little religion goes a long way –

so I tend to be moderate in my evangelism, and cautious when it comes to doctrine –

but in this case, I am comfortable is saying that while it may be possible (even preferable)

to accept “a little religion”, there is no such thing as “a little resurrection”.

 

Where resurrection is concerned, as Saul discovered, it is all or nothing,

And this is a truth that can save us; does save us.

 

The Risen Christ can drive us from the wrong path

because there is no mild acceptance of this incredible truth;

in Christ’s rising, the former things are cleared away,

and God has done and is still doing a new thing.

This new thing drains the fear from our fearful lives –

and offers us a hopeful response to those who would tell us that the world is going to Hell.

In Christ, we may boldly declare that even the world as we know it is being redeemed.

Christ stands as the sign of the redemption of all things –

even during a week full of sadness and despair –

and opens our eyes to Creation as imagined by God.

 

Let us, even here – even now – remain bold in this hope that cannot fail.

 

 


[1] Acts 5: 38-39

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