Sermon for Easter
Fr. David Curry
Christ Church, Windsor, NS
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
seem too beautiful to be true. Some things seem too good to be true. Some
things seem too true to be true. The Resurrection is more so - at once
beautiful and good and true, but also more beautiful than beautiful, more
good than good, more true than true. This is a day of superlatives when
everything is more. “This is the day which the Lord hath made / let us
rejoice and be glad in it”; a day surpassing all our days, a day
suffusing all our days with joy, come what may, a day supplying more joy
How is this day
so much and more? Because it is more than what we looked for, more
than what we expected, both then and now. It is still and always more. We
come to the tomb seeking the body of Jesus who was crucified. Our souls in
such a seeking become themselves tombs. But, behold, his tomb is empty;
“he is not here”, even more, “he is risen”! This
unlooked-for reality marks a new beginning, a radical beginning, and one
upon which we may ever return. But what about ourselves? “If ye
then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ
sitteth at the right hand of the God”. Get your noses out of the
We cannot see
the hands of God the Father, those same hands into which Christ Crucified
commends his spirit, but “he who has seen the Son has seen the Father”.
On this day, we see those hands in the Risen Christ. They are the hands
which embraced us in the fellowship of friends, “Take, eat, This is my
body”, our betrayal of his friendship notwithstanding. They are the
hands which embraced the cross, the hands which are marred by the wounds of
our betrayals. But those same hands are something more in Christ’s witness
to his own Resurrection. They are the hands with wounds made glorious, more
beautiful than beautiful. There is in this a greater good than perhaps we
realise, a greater truth than, perhaps, we see.
There is more
to the joy of this superlative day than simply the shift from sorrow to joy,
more than a mere change in mood. We have enough of those; our lives are
lives of change and decay, of good times and bad, of happy times and sad, of
sickness and health, in short, our lives have death in them. There is the
constant to and fro of our seeking this and that. We look for this and
that, it seems, for the right things perhaps but in the wrong way, or the
wrong things in the right way. We scoff and snort at miracles as the stuff
of an unenlightened past and yet we expect and look for no end of miracles,
in part to distract us from the miseries of the present.
We want and
look for an economic miracle; we want and pray for a medical miracle; we
want and demand a political miracle, a social miracle, a personal miracle.
And yet in all these things we look to a future in flight from the past by
denying the reality of suffering and death. We expect and look for
everything except the something more of Christ’s Resurrection, the miracle
of all life itself accomplished exactly through the suffering and death of
the Son of God.
Resurrection is that something more, a something more which is made known so
as to be lived. It becomes the life of the Church, now and always. No
Resurrection. No Church. No reason to get up in the morning. “Let us
eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. Such is the ancient
wisdom of despair. The end of the story is that there is no story, no
purpose, no meaning. Our lives are but a meaningless struggle in the
meaninglessness of life itself. But the Resurrection is something more. It
proclaims purpose and manifests meaning even in the face of the seeming
meaninglessness of our empty world and day. The story of the Resurrection
is given to be our story; even more, it is given to be our life.
Resurrection marks the measure of this holy time and forms the pattern of
holy lives. It is not an afterthought, a happy ending tacked on to an
otherwise gruesome and rather unedifying morality tale. No. The
Resurrection is the heart and soul of our Christian faith, the very
substance of our Christian lives, the constant centre of our Christian
liturgy - our lives in prayer and praise, not just now in the festival of
Easter but throughout all the moments of our lives in faith.
Even in Holy
Week, even in the intensity of Christ’s Passion, we journeyed in the
knowledge already of his Resurrection, for we cannot pretend that we do not
know that the Resurrection is the fruit of the passion. Yet that knowledge
brought no sweetness to the sight of the Crucified; if anything, it made it
more bitter, at best, bittersweet. The Resurrection gives greater poignancy
to the passion. The joy in our sorrow makes our sorrow more sorrowful, not
less. And so now, the remembrance of the passion deepens the joy of the
Resurrection. The sorrow in our joy makes our joy more joyful not less.
The past of
prophecy, the past of experience, the reality of sin and folly, the fact of
suffering and death are not forgotten nor denied. Instead, they are
gathered up into the hands of the Risen Christ, “Behold, my hands....a
spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have ... It is I myself”,
he says. The Crucified Christ, Risen and glorified is something more, not
less, than the past of passion and death. His life is made manifest in his
body, “risen no more to die”. The Resurrection makes the body
adequate to the soul. It is the radical condition of our individuality, but
only as in the one who is truly and infinitely unique, Jesus Christ, risen
and glorified. It means that his life must be made known in his body the
Church. His Risen Life is the meaning of the Church. For what is the life
of the Church except the life of the Resurrection?
He is risen for
us. His tomb is empty because he would be here, here in his body, the
Church, here in Word proclaimed and Sacraments celebrated. His death and
life become the pattern of our life, our life in him and with him. The
Resurrection is radical new life, not by way of the avoidance of death but
through the passage of death making death no longer death but the way and
means to endless life, even through the will to nothingness which is the
self-willed death and folly of our souls. The Resurrection is the condition
of our life with Christ and in Christ but only because He is risen. This is
indeed something more - something more beautiful, something more good,
something more true.
But how do we
come to know this which we did not think to look for, which we did not even
expect? By its being made known to us. How is it made known to us?
By the reality of the idea of the Resurrection made known to us by the
witness of the Resurrection. There are the three witnesses of the
Resurrection. First, there is the eloquent, silent witness of the empty
tomb. But that is not enough for the certainty of our faith, for doubts may
arise. They have, perhaps “taken my Lord away”, stolen the body.
All such possibilities of doubt belong to the story, by the way.
witness follows upon the first. It is the witness of the Angels, those
everlasting messengers of all and every great goodness. “He is risen.
He is not here”. Surely that will convince us. Yet Satan himself was
an angel, a tempter and a deceiver and so beyond these two witnesses we must
have a third, the Risen Lord himself. He makes himself known to all sorts
and kinds, to women and to men, to the disciples and to crowds; in short, to
all humanity representatively, as it were. And the witness of the
Resurrection sets in motion the witness to the Resurrection, the witness of
It is from
Christ himself that we have the greater certainty of our faith in the
Resurrection. He makes himself known to us in his risen body - more
beautiful than beautiful, more good than good, more true than true. For
the Risen Lord is more beautiful than Adam - read “mankind” - before
the Fall in the garden of Paradise. His Resurrection is more good
than the Creation he himself called very good. His Resurrection is more
true than his truth proclaimed in Law and Prophecy. His Resurrection is
indeed more beautiful than beautiful because the ugliness of sin has
been transformed into the beauty of his risen body.
It is more
good than good because the evil of death has been transformed into the
way of risen life. It is more true than true because the lies of our
betrayals have been transformed into the threefold witness of the Church to
the witness of the Resurrection: the Word in the earth, the stone tomb is
empty; the Word from heaven, the angels’ message; and finally and
wonderfully, the Word made flesh, risen and glorified, uniting heaven and
earth, the Word spoken and present, heard and visible, known and sensed,
more beautiful than beautiful.
Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is that something more, more
beautiful than beautiful, more good than good, more true than true. He is
Risen. He is our life. Let us rise up into the life of Christ’s
Resurrection. Our life is in the hands of the Father.
“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!