Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sermon 2013

Sermon preached on The First Sunday of Easter ... 31st March 2013 ... in the Church of the Resurrection Blarney 

What a difference a day makes ... Just 24 little hours! 

Bishop Tom Wright - in his book Surprised by hope ... Writes That ... "We could cope, the world could cope with a Jesus who ultimately remains a wonderful idea inside his disciples minds and hearts. The world cannot cope with a Jesus who comes out of the tomb, who inaugurates God’s new creation right in the middle of the old one...

All of us have questions ... 

What does the future hold ?... what’s the big picture? ... what on earth am I here for? ... is there a plan? ... Life after Death ...

These are all questions we at various times I am sure we have asked and have grappled with. It is interesting to hear people talking in cafes...on TV and around campfires. The human condition asks these questions. 

Easter day brings these questions into focus ... because on this day we are talking about death and life, God and eternal things, the big questions and it is interesting how as society has moulded these huge life defining issues into fluffy chicks, white rabbits with baskets and chocolate. 

So.. Easter day ... a day when we proclaim Christ is Risen ... What difference does that make?  I’m suggesting from the readings today that 

  • Easter Produces Hope 
  • Easter Provides meaning 
  • Easter Changes Everything 

Hope ... is one of the essentials of life ... It is the virtue of the expectation that what we see is not what will always be ... in other words that change is possible ... no matter how unlikely that change might well be. 

This excites me ... and I hope you are excited too... When Jesus came out of that tomb on that first easter day he launched a world of justice and joy and hope for the whole earth. 

We can live through things if we have that expectation that better is possible. Easter provides this by saying Life is worth living, our world is not how it should be and we can change our circumstances in the present. 

Our hope in Christ is for now as well as for our future by this hope that things can be better things which lack meaning can have meaning. 

Hope for the poor, Healing for the sick, friendship for the lonely, meaning and restoration for the depressed, freedom for the slaves, homes for refugees, food for the hungry, a future for the abused, the down trodden and the despairing. 

God’s kingdom in the resurrection has been inagurated but it is still to find its fullness in our midst. 

We see some of this hope in our midst as we work to see God’s Kingdom here ... but more of it is still to come. 

Easter provides meaning ... In our world today there are many people who are searching for meaning, striving for the eternal things - some try to find it in all sorts of strange places - Tarrot, Material Possessions, Crystals, Pilgrimages, adventures ... 

In our Easter celebrations ... easter allows us to see that Those who are in Christ ... are a new creation the old is gone the new is here and that it is possible to find meaning in the creator God who has come amongst his people ... through sending his son to share our human experience. 

Our task ... Our purpose is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian Life, corporately and individually in worship and mission. 

No other faith in our world today speaks about life and death the way Christianity does. 

Each person is a unique creation, loved by God, created for a relationship with him and we are to find our meaning in the mission he has given to humanity - Creating a better world, loving our neighbour, getting to know God better, telling others about him

All that we do as easter people we are called to know that fear is gone - worry, hatred all the rest of the stuff when we get the eternal perspective is removed. 

Yes setbacks come ... illness, broken relationships, bad decsions, but the big news about easter is that it is possible for us to have a structure upon which to make sense of life, death and meaning. 

There are many places which try to provide this, many gurus in our world today which try, down through the years people have tried to give their own philosophies. However the claim of the church is unique ... is that what we proclaim in our creed ... yes Christ has been crazily misrepresented by those who are supposed to know better but at its core - Christ claim to be the Son of God and that Death has be conquered has to be believed. 

And we also go further ... This is not just a nice code to be live life by ... just for now ... the Apostle Paul doesnt allow us to have that sort of belief If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The effectiveness of Easter, is for all time - is for eternity. 

Easter Changes everything 

Imagine a business who is looking to grow ... they bring in a consultant who from outside is able to ask difficult questions, allowing those in the business to dream big dreams. 

One of the basic questions which they will ask ... where would you like to see your business being in 5 or 10 years down the line. This is a dreaming question, it is a question which asks something about the core business, about their values, about what could be. 

Once the vision is mapped out the question will be asked what steps need to be taken to get there ... what resources are needed, what needs to be worked on and what other things need to be done. 

Easter provides an opportunity for us all to reflect on our lives in the light of not just 3-5 years but what our lives look like in the light of eternity - in the light of the knowledge that we are called into relationship with Christ and what does that mean in terms of our dreams, in terms of what we we could do for him, in terms of the things we value. 

A business which doesn’t have a vision for what could and would be ... who is simply doing the same things day in and day out without planning for the future could be seen not to be growing and perhaps even declining. 

We all can get caught with all the worries of today, with all the concerns of making ends meet for today, and all the details. 

But easter calls us to a bigger vision, a vision which changes as we realise that our lives mean somthing more than the sum of our ideas, our wage packet. That there is something more going on. 

In conclusion 

The Easter message makes sense ... 

- Easter Produces Hope 

- Easter Provides meaning 

  • Easter Changes Everything 

Let us take a few moments to pause ... Are there things we need to re-think, things that the Resurrection has thrown up for us that we need to follow up upon 

Blarney Update

Below is the latest Blarney Update to appear in our parish Magazine

Now that the month of April is on the horizon and the clocks have changed, plans are beginning to come together in Blarney for all sorts of things happening both within and beyond the church doors.

  • ·         The Parish Website continues to be developed
  • ·         Blarney Church has its own Facebook page – please do “like” us.
  • ·         We are looking at our summer programme in the church especially tourist friendly information leaflets which will be distributed in May- June.
  • ·         This the end of this month we are looking forward to welcoming John Hughes  - please do come along if you are free on any of the evenings  / Saturday Morning. More details elsewhere.
  • ·         Linking up with primary School’s in the Blarney Area.
  • ·         Continue to Develop our Lighthouse Ministry – AG reports on March’s Lighthouse :

“ The Lighthouse Easter celebration - Wow! So much enthusiasm! So many people and lots of happy noise and movement around the place! We have just had our Easter Lighthouse and there were a record 94 people in the church, with lots of new and familiar faces. It has been just such a joy to be able to be a part of Lighthouse and seeing the numbers attending it grow.
Some of you are probably thinking, so what is this Lighthouse thing all about. To Explain what Lighthouse is as well as having songs, prayers, Bible stories, all of which regularly happen at church services, there are also lots of different activities through which the Bible story may be explored. 

This month we did such things as put red paint handprints on the shape of a cross to show how Jesus died to forgive our sins, fold and cut a piece of paper to give lots of different shapes which could be used to tell the story of Good Friday and also spell out the word ‘Alive’, make a model of the empty tomb, an Easter card to help us share the ‘Good News’ with others and ice and decorate biscuits to share together at refreshment time, as well as other games and activities."

The Lighthouse is aimed at families with children 3-12 years, with a play area for younger children.”
Why not come and join us at the next one which takes place on Sunday 14th April at 3.30 – 5pm.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Move us into action ... we must go! ... but how? ... where? and whom?

Right ...

With lots of people in Blarney ... I have just returned from a service for the World day of Prayer ... a service prepared by some women of France. A service which is being prayed by lots of people throughout the world over these 24 hours.

There was a real challenge in this service this evening, and if this challenge isn't heard then I wonder what the church of God is doing ... it is a challenge ...a huge challenge ... A biblical challenge right throughout Old and New Testament ... a challenge which, as we were challenged tonight with is get on with it ... do it!

According to the World Day of prayer website
World Day of Prayer is about Informed Prayer which flows into Prayerful Action. After hearing the voices of our sisters, experiencing their pains with them, and feeling their hopes and fears, we are empowered to act. Prayer and action are not two different things connected by a string but rather inseparable realms of our faith experience. To pray truly is to be changed. To truly let in a new perspective is to be changed. To act in accordance with these shifts happens organically. Action continues our prayer.

OK, let's be very practical about this ... in Blarney, in Cork ... wherever you find yourself ... what can we do for those who are Hungry, Thirsty, Strangers, Naked, Sick, In prison

How do we know who they are?

I was very challenged by someone who said on the way out ... something along the lines of ..."well what are we doing about what we have just prayed about" ... mmm... yup ...

 all ideas welcome ... It would be a great conversation to have ... not for the sake of talking but to get on with the business of being Jesus' hands and his feet in this village, city, county and beyond.

Be careful what you pray for!!!