The Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham gave his first sermon of Easter at the Dawn Vigil service in Durham Cathedral.
What do we do when we have invested everything in one venture, one person and it all goes very wrong?
Do we run away? Or despair? Or do we stick with it?
WOMEN ON EASTER DAY
The women who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices had followed Jesus faithfully.
Mary Magdalene had found great freedom in Jesus. Freedom from her bondage to evil.
Joanna had risked much. Her husband Chuza was in charge of Herod’s household. She had risked leaving that to follow Jesus.
All the women had found in Jesus welcome and hope.
They had given much in supporting Jesus and the disciples financially (Luke 8.1-3).
Yet now apparently it had all gone very wrong. Jesus had been betrayed, tried and killed.
Judas the betrayer had then killed himself in despair.
All the male disciples, except John, had run away, and Peter had denied Jesus.
But the women had stuck with Jesus. They had stood by the Cross; they had watched the burial; they had prepared the spices and now they went to the tomb.
Here they discover that all is not lost after all. The tomb is empty. Jesus is risen.
WHAT OF US?
What of us here; those who have been baptised and confirmed; and us all?
What do we do with the risen Jesus?
I encourage you to invest all in him. Risk your life on following the risen Jesus.
Remember that for many around the world being baptised into Christ opens believers up to the possibility of persecution, and for some even death. Following Jesus is risky living.
The women were encouraged to remember what Jesus had told them; Luke tells us that they remembered his words.
We too need to be those who remember his words, and live by them. So reading the Bible, meditating on it, so that we can remember Jesus teaching and way is an essential part of our discipleship. We cannot remember without listening.
The story of the risen Jesus was like, ‘idle tales’ to the disciples. Do not be surprised when others think that your faith in Jesus is faith in ‘idle tales’. People will dismiss it as not relevant in the 21st century; or compatible with a scientific age. Let no one tell you that all scientists do not believe in God or Jesus resurrection – there are many who do. They will say that Jesus and his resurrection is the story that makes most sense of the universe and of life.
So stick with Jesus – through the darkness, the loss, the failures, the opposition.
The risen Lord will be with you and uphold you.