Sermon for Evensong & Benediction Easter 2 Sunday 28 April 2019
Sermon preached by Fr Simon Cuff, College of St Mellitus
The smallest of words matter. The smallest jot and tittle makes all the difference. Even the smallest of punctuation marks can mask an entire history. Think of the hyphen in Judaeo- Christian. That one little hyphen marks centuries of mistrust, violence, and hostility. Small things matter. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
The entire Christian life is captured in that ‘is’. Not Christ was risen or has risen. Christ is Risen. The risen life of Easter we are celebrating isn’t a past event. The Risen Christ isn’t a reanimated corpse. The Risen Jesus is a living presence in our lives. The Risen Life is an active one.
Our alleluia to Christ is Risen isn’t an alleluia to what God has done in the past. Our alleluia to Christ is Risen is an alleluia to what Christ is doing even now. Christ is Risen. As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.
Our Easter Alleluias celebrate that Christ is the Lord not just of our past, or of our present, or our future but of all time, all our pasts and presents and futures. “Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all ages; to him be glory and power, through every age and for ever” as we proclaimed in our Easter Vigil.
Every ‘is’ belongs to him. Even the smallest ‘is’ belongs to him. Even the smallest, most insignificant ‘is’ in the world’s eyes belongs to him, and he cares more deeply for it than we can even begin to imagine. In this service of Benediction we are invited to gaze upon once again that ultimate ‘is’, the bread of heaven, the risen life of Easter in the sacrament which unites our ‘is’, our very being, to his, to that great ‘is’ which is Christ himself. That ‘I am’ who is Lord.
This evening we are invited to recognise him in the broken bread, just as the disciples recognised him in the breaking of bread on the road to Emmaus. That episode reminds us that the Christian life is impossible to live on our own. We live the risen life of Easter with Christ. We enter it through our mothers and fathers in the faith. We live it supported by great many brothers and sisters in Christ who help us live this risen life. We are urged on, supported by the Saints, that great cloud of witnesses, whose prayers surround as we journey on. This is the body of Christ at work in the world, each and every Christian celebrating the new life of Easter breaking through in the world. Even the smallest most insignificant member of that Body in the world’s eyes is held as tightly, and regarded as highly, as the rest. And all of these fellow members of the Body of Christ help us discern what it means to live the Risen life of Easter. Like Christ in our Gospel reading, they unpack the Scriptures for us, they teach us what it means to live the Christian life, and in so doing reveal to us again the Risen Christ active in our midst.
This evening we are invited to proclaim once again that ‘Christ is Risen’, and to build our lives afresh on him. To be supported once again by the Body of Christ, as we gaze on his Body in the Sacrament. To ask ourselves once again what it means for us to live the risen life of Easter wherever we live or work. To proclaim joyfully, with the entire body of Christ throughout the ages: Christ is Risen! Alleluia! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!