Homily for Easter Sunday

Homily for Easter Sunday, preached at St Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham on April 17th 2022

Sunday, April 17, 2022
Office of the Bishop
Right Reverend Patrick McKinney

Homily for Easter Sunday, preached at St Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham on April 17th 2022

‘Kyrios Jesus!’ That’s how the very early Church powerfully proclaimed her faith in the Resurrection, with these two little Greek words, ‘Kyrios Jesus’, which in English we translate as ‘Jesus is Lord’. For the early Christians this proclamation meant, ‘Jesus is Lord of my life’. So when people in the early Church came forward to receive baptism and made their baptismal promises and their Profession of Faith, this was not just an intellectual exercise for them, not just an accepting of truths about God and his Church. They also very much understood it as accepting an invitation to  a personal relationship with Christ Jesus, as Lord of one’s life. Baptism is the foundational sacrament in our lives as disciples of Christ, in our own living relationship with the Risen Christ, which is built upon through subsequent encounters with Christ Jesus: here in the Eucharist, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and in all the other sacraments; but also in our reading, and in our listening to, the Word of God, with a realisation that it is addressed to us personally. We know that a living relationship with the Risen Christ strengthens us. It liberates something within us at crucial times in our lives, perhaps a strength we did not know we had, or a renewed hope or capacity for life; sometimes a resilience, or even an ability to bounce back, when we thought we were completely defeated, as well as a capacity to change and grow, and to be transformed by Christ’s Holy Spirit into more missionary disciples, sharing humbly but confidently with others the positive difference that knowing and serving Christ makes to our lives.

For the Christian in whom the Risen Christ is alive and at work, there is nothing that can ultimately defeat us, not sin, suffering or death, because Christ Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has overcome everything that would seek to destroy us or to block our human and spiritual growth. In the Easter sequence, which the Cathedral choir sang so beautifully for us, we as the Church acknowledge the duel of death and life that goes on at times in our hearts; the battle sometimes of human despair against Christian hope. But the victory has been won by Christ – this is what we celebrate at Easter -and we are invited to call upon that victory often, especially at times when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges in our lives. So, correctly understood, the Resurrection of Jesus, which we share in through baptism, provides us with the context in which we can really trust in God’s love for us and rely absolutely upon it.

Easter is essentially a celebration of the Risen life of Jesus, and of the action within us of Christ Jesus himself, by means of his Holy Spirit. It is a time to renew our baptismal promises, to open our hearts afresh to experience this Risen Life in our own lives, and to invite Christ to be Lord in our lives, so that He can continue His work in our world now, through us his disciples, his co-workers. How? Well, it could be as simple as beginning each day with a prayer like this: ‘What, today, are we going to do together Lord?’ and by asking the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our heart to help us to see little opportunities during that day when we could each be the channels by which others experience, through us, something of God’s love, joy, compassion, and forgiveness, in perhaps little but nevertheless significant acts of kindness and goodness.

Sometimes, however, allowing the Risen Christ to reign a little more freely in our hearts may make more difficult demands upon us; such as having the courage to dare to be like Christ in the way we live;  in following our own conscience, one informed by the teachings of Christ, especially in unpopular causes. It might mean being willing to disagree with the majority, and making decisions that we know to be according to the Gospel, even when others, including friends, do not understand why we are acting as we are.  We all know how easy it can be to submit passively to the opinions of the crowd. But the Christian in whom Christ is risen sometimes needs to dare to think and act differently, not because they are arrogant, but because they listen carefully and respond to the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit at work within them.  They know they are not alone, and that God’s grace will provide them with what they are lacking.

As we each now prepare to renew our Baptismal Promises and make again the Profession of Faith, let’s pause a moment, as the Risen Christ’s co-workers & disciples, to reflect upon how we will invite Him to work more freely through us today, and throughout these weeks of Eastertide.

+ Patrick

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