Easter Sermon 2015

Sermon Title: EASTER SERMON 2015

Date:5th April 2015

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Church Calendar Date: Easter

Lectionary Reading: Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

So what is it about today, Easter Day which draws us to church, to follow Jesus in this story of resurrection?

Why have you come today?

Perhaps it’s a sense of duty, something that you always do. Maybe it’s a happy service with children and Easter eggs!

Maybe there is something about Jesus coming through death to life that you want, that you need because that’s not how it feels right now.

For whatever reason you have come today, as Jonathan asked us all on both Maundy Thursday and at the Good Friday services, have you come expectantly?

Are you expecting that God will speak to you? And if not why not?

Jesus story…is your story.

We are celebrating the Great Three days of the Christian year. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and today Easter day.  Hopefully we have come expecting something to touch us as we entered the story of the Last Supper, that last meal Jesus had with his friends, in the act of washing feet for another, and then to sit in a darkened church to wait for the day when Jesus was taken away, tortured and died on a cross. On Good Friday you left stones at the foot of the cross whatever those stones represented for you and you touched the cross aware of Jesus suffering and death and your own suffering and the little deaths you go through in life.  And today the day of unexpected joy and in many ways also fear, that this Jesus actually overcame death ….and did this to help us live in truth and love.

It’s hard not to stay at Good Friday.

And many people find it hard to move through it to see any good news…any resurrection for themselves.

But it takes time and you could put on a cheery face but inside you feel just…flat…

But we hope. We have faith to believe that we will not stay there in that dark place.  For some it’s so very hard and I can only or you can only sit with them and be a companion in their darkness.be their hope.be their seed of hope.

On the front of your pew sheet is an acorn.

We have a wonderful big oak tree out the front of our church and this year lots and lots of acorns fell off the tree. The tree is over 100 years old and acorns depending on the type of oak tree only start producing acorns when they are about 20- 50 years old.

Though small at first, when this oak tree was first planted, it has grown into a massive fixture in our neighbourhood and is  a gift to be passed onto future generations.

Acorns are too heavy for wind dispersal so they require other ways to be spread. I remember the cartoon characters of Chip and Dale who were chipmonks (related to squirrels) and they would come to an oak tree, gather up and sometimes drop acorns along the way, and then ‘squirrel’ away the acorns for food at a later time!

Acorns need a lot of care before they begin to germinate. They need to be placed in the fridge with a mixture of material that will keep them moist but not too moist.  It is in this dark place that they begin to grow.

The oak tree can withstand all the seasons…autumn, when their leaves begin to die and fall to the ground (as they are doing now); winter, when the tree is bare and looks dead; spring, signs of new green leaves appearing; summer, full of leaves and possibility of fruit-acorns. The oak tree survives wind, rain, heat of the sun, and sometimes hail and frost.

It is resilient.

Our oak tree is a symbol for us as Christians and particularly as we have been prayerfully reflecting on our seeds of hope this past Lent and our future vision for our parish.

Throughout Lent we prayed that we longed to be a parish that is fully alive with Christ at the centre. We dedicated ourselves each Sunday to build community, to making our celebrations relevant and life-giving, to helping each other grow in faith, to partnership in the care of our parish.

And even though we are coping with so much change and wonder if we will survive especially financially, we are seeing new life emerging. We see this in those offering with the children’s talks, the Sunday school, J2A, a youth group to start in the near future, new folk in the choir, new families joining us, palm cross makers sharing their skills.

We have a new ballet school meeting in the hall and the Musical Society of Victoria has made St Pauls their home with 8 concerts a year.

Last week we had a kindergarten Easter service with 53 children and 20 parents and hopefully I will be able to let you know the name of the new Director of the Kindergarten next week.

So, there is new life emerging….emerging…our vision is not yet fully realised.

We still need to keep praying in this Easter tide for decisions about some of the areas that you have mentioned in your reflections and what I have discerned over the time that we no longer have an assistant like Kate.

These areas include the ongoing nurture of children and families; leaders of small groups for spiritual growth and then for the preparation of families for baptism, first communion and individuals for confirmations.  Who is to perform these tasks and equip lay leadership in the parish?

When we reflect on the acorn and its growth into an oak tree, for the process of germination and for continued healthy growth it needs access to water, sunlight and good soil.

Same with us.  We need water, sunlight and good soil not only through our liturgy, but in the way we care for each other and support each other in our faith so our roots will be deep in God and we will be resilient and able to cope with the changing seasons.

This is an exciting and yet scary time…much like when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary ran off to tell the other disciples that Jesus was no longer dead but alive…they went quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy!

We go through all the seasons of life in the full knowledge that we are Easter people who know that a new day does come…that it is in the seasons of loss, grief, of signs of something new happening in our parish and in our deeper selves that we stand with the oak tree with our roots anchored deep in God.

On the front of your pew sheet is a poem written by Elizabeth Green. It actually didn’t click that this “Elizabeth” was Miles’ ‘Liz! and so I rang her yesterday and she was very pleased we were reading her poem today.

Let me finish by reading it to you.

“I see the groaning of the windswept tree.

Its sculptured limbs engender deep emotions in me.

The tree stands crooked almost bereft of leaves.

All gnarled and knotted but still it breathes.

But where its roots are anchored deep and warm

one small seed is waiting silently to be born.

And there together in the early Easter morning sun,

the mystery of a new day, a new life has begun.

The tree is a symbol of what life can be.

The awe of the Easter can transfigure you and me.”

At the beginning of this sermon, I wondered if you came expectantly. That God would speak to you.  Have there been any acorns, seeds of new life that you have come to realise, be surprised about in your life today.

Let it grow! Have courage! You are oak trees! You are resilient.

The Lord be with you.