The Most Revd Leonard Dawea – Saint Barnabas Provincial Cathedral, Honiara (DoCM) – Acts 10: 34-43; 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; John 20: 1-18
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Alleluia Christ is risen: He is risen indeed Alleluia. Our theme for today is ‘Jesus Christ accomplishes renewed life and relationship for Christians through his resurrection’.
Let me begin today from where the passion of Christ ended on Good Friday. I am not intending to recall the dark and sad events Christ went through, but to set the bearing for a message for today. The last word of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday was, “Father into your hands I placed my Spirit”, he said this and died.
What actually happened was death took place when the Body and the Spirit of Jesus parted – the body remains on the cross and was placed in the tomb later on, while God possess his Spirit. On the third day, the first day of the Week, when it was dark, God reunited Jesus’ Spirit to his Body; that reunion gives birth to the RESURRECTION. The Synoptic Gospels all mentioned these words, “He has been raised”, Matthew 28: 6; Mark 16: 6 and Luke 24: 6; an indication that the resurrection was God’s activity, Acts 10: 40. It is common knowledge that a dead body cannot do anything for itself.
In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity found her central foundation and doctrine. St. Paul says that without resurrection, Christianity would be meaningless and empty, 1 Cor. 15: 12-19. He believes that the resurrection unveils the power of God, Romans 1: 4.
Resurrection New Life
One of the greatest concepts associated with the resurrection is the concept of ‘NEW’. New life, new love, new relationship, new covenant, new experiences and new day of worship for Sunday worshippers. We know for sure that the resurrection of Jesus takes place against the backdrop of sin and death, so it dawns new life and salvation.
Let us use the experiences around the tomb that morning on the day of the resurrection of our Lord as justification to the above experience. There was real emptiness and sorrow brought forward from Good Friday. And it seems to continue when Mary first discovered the empty tomb. Instead of being renewed and reconnected, she was alienated and disconnected further when her attempt to reconnect was terribly denied by the empty tomb. Though the light of the first day of the week was already dawning, life for Mary was still engulfed in total darkness. Instead of being consoled from her sorrow, her heart was deeply pierced by sorrow and grief at the absence of the Body of Jesus; it had been taken away as she claimed.
But God has already reunited Jesus’ Body and his Spirit; resurrection had happened when it was still dark. So many times in life we don’t fully understand the work of God. And yet, in situations like this, He does not leave us alone, he leads and guides us to discover the risen Christ. Like Mary Magdalene, we need to be present, available and manifest our craving for our Lord Jesus Christ. We must bring our own emptiness and God will gradually guide us to discover our fullness in the risen Lord.
God lifts away our confusion, grief, pain and darkness, even without our knowledge. When it was still dark God had raised our Saviour from the dead, he had renewed and reconnected our relationship with him. The death of Christ brought disconnection and brokenness of our physical and spiritual relationship beyond human beings. On discovering the empty tomb, Mary ran to her male colleagues for help but they did not help at all. They left her again helpless and enveloped by her grief and darkness. She remained standing as she repeatedly investigates the scene of the empty tomb. Her real restoration, reconnection, renewal and transformation came only when she encountered Jesus who calls her by name.
Our society, Churches, nation, family and individual lives has been challenged by so many issues. We are faced with so many health issues, including the current deadly Covid-19 pandemic. The environmental issues including climate change continue to threaten our lives, and in the national level, we continue to hear huge political decisions to be made.
As a nation, we have been working towards one direction to counteract these issues. Nations are pulling together to alleviate and address the issues and provide helping hands to small nations, but unfortunately these issues continue to take root in our societies. Take for example the Covid-19, our nation has been called into one direction towards containing and eliminating it.
We continue to hear kind support from our political allies. But if this nation is to rise again, it must be raised by God through our genuine hearts and good works. God raised Jesus from the death because he went through his sufferings to death with entire obedience and total surrender to the will of God. The resurrection of Christ calls to renew our heart and to be faithful to the work God is doing through us.
New relationship after the resurrection
Let us also consider the new way of relationship with the resurrected Christ. Mary craves for the risen Body of Christ, she wants to hold on to him, but Jesus forbids it. The post-resurrection relationship is based on faith, not on the mortal Body of Jesus.
One of the greatest significances of the resurrected Body of Jesus was that it was a spiritual Body, not that he possesses no Body, but that he is interdependent with his Spirit, as manifested after his ascension. It was viewed by sacred writers that the condition of our Lord after his resurrection was essentially a state of Spirit. In this new existence, as Spirit he indwells all believers at the same time through the Holy Spirit. Unlike the pre-resurrection Body, which only dwells amongst his believers.
After his resurrection, we do not have to see Jesus face to face, we don’t have to hold on to his mortal Body; instead only Jesus can touch us with his indwelling Spirit. Jesus once said to Thomas after his resurrection and appearance to the disciples, “Happy are those who believe without seeing me”, John 20: 29. There is so much unbelief still present in our Church and society today; there are people out there who still want to see the mortal Body of Jesus in order to believe. But it is not the way after the resurrection.
With the concept of the indwelling Spirit, Jesus is present with us every day though we do not see him. He has the power to transform our personal lives, transform our national and domestic challenges, transform our mission activities and elevate our lives to him. Every day in the different experiences we encounter, Jesus calls us by name, he calls our nation, and he calls our Church and society by name.
He calls us to diverge from continuing to reimagine the events in the Garden of Eden. There was figure pointing, no one was at fault, there was alienation from God and from each other. In the midst of darkness, fear, confusion, alienation, grief, health issues, breakdown of social order and cultural norms, political disharmony, we are called into a renewed relationship with Christ. A renewed relationship bound and made permanent by love; a renewed relationship where Jesus is the unseen guest in our homes, where families are centred in Christ and where social classes become equal in Christ, Acts 10: 34.
The Resurrection Call
Another area that we uncover in the gospel reading was the call to discipleship ‘go and tell’. We are called to proclaim the message of Jesus and his relationship to the Father and his relationship to with us. We are to be as Mother Teresa prays, “the Body of Christ on earth, hands to do his work, feet to walk the gospel, eyes to love through, which his love can shine upon the troubled world”.
In the midst of all the uncertainties of our national health, security, economic and livelihood in our nation, communities, Churches, families and individual lives, Christ send us forth to ‘go and tell’ that he is risen. We are to, and tell that love has defeated hatred and death forever. We are to go and tell that the new Light is shining upon this nation forever. He sends us forth to ‘go and tell’ that no night is night forever, no darkness is darkness forever, no sorrow is sorrow forever, and no death is death forever, and that God has destroyed death forever.
It is an assurance that no pain, despair, emptiness, distrust can hold us captive for ever. Christ’s love is stronger than death. The resurrection of Christ should illuminate all the dark secrets of our hearts, heals our broken relationships, and restores our vision, Luke 24:5 to see our neighbours.
Let us break free from the grave clothes. God’s love remerges from the tomb and never to return. Christ has accomplished renewed and eternal life through the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection is God’s gift and miracle to the world divided by war, Covid-19, political agendas, breakdown of our cultural and traditional norms. It is the gift of God for our neighbour in the broader meaning of the word. I wish you all again a blessed and peaceful celebration. The Lord be with you.
The Most Revd Leonard Dawea – ACoM Communications