Sermon - 1st May 2011
The Sound of Music
Scripture - Luke 24:1-12
Is there anyone here who hasn't seen the film The Sound Of Music?
Chances are you've seen it dozens of times, you know all the songs, all the scenes, maybe you sing along to it when it's on every Boxing Day, maybe you avoid it like the plague - familiarity breeding contempt.
Whatever your feeling towards it, love it or loathe it, there's very little surprise in it.
You watch it and you know what's coming next, "here we go the nuns are singing again" or "Oh no, who told Christopher Plummer he could sing?"
When you think that it is, however loosely, based on a true story, it's quite difficult to imagine those people actually living through that situation.
The main problem as I see it, is that you have to remember that as it was happening, the people in it - didn't know what was coming next.
No one gets really concerned watching the Nazis chase them up the hill anymore, because we know they'll escape.
How true is this of the Easter story for us?
I remember sitting watching the TV Series The Passion with a couple of friends, one of them left to go saying, “I’m going to spoil it for you – "he dies at the end".
The thing is that Jesus resurrection provides much more than a nice end to the story,
For us it's a central part of our faith.
For us it's the START of the story.
The start of a story where we stopped worrying about the future and death.
The start of a story where we can live in hope.
It was just the same for those first disciples.
They'd never have gone out to meet all those new people.
They'd have stayed in their room hiding, afraid of what would happen, they'd just seen their leader put to a horrific death, and quite reasonably would have assumed, that the same was going to happen to them.
They'd followed Jesus into Jerusalem, through the parade that was Palm Sunday. Now Jesus had been telling them all along what was going to happen, that he was going to be caught and put to death, but most of them didn't believe it. I say most of them, the women who were part of Jesus' followers seemed to accept it, so did our infamous doubter Thomas but on the whole they felt they were on the crest of a wave, and thought Jesus would be able to overturn the old order, and survive.
Well, they were right, but it didn't happen the way they expected it to.
Jesus would overturn the old order, and Jesus would ultimately survive, but the means to the end was something they just weren't expecting.
Then, as in so many countries even now, torture and execution were seen as effective means of dealing with troublemakers. And that's exactly what the Romans did.
When you try to put the reality back into scripture it can make it seem more alive for us; of course when you do it to the Easter story, it's a lot more uncomfortable. The horrors of Good Friday, crucifixion was a particularly nasty way to die, well I'll be honest, when I really think about them, I get the heebie-jeebies. And then I remember, he went through THAT for me.
This is what the disciples saw. His slow and painful death.
They weren't stupid these people. When someone dies like that they're dead. And people stay dead, is what they would've thought.
So when a few days later, those women went to the tomb, they were expecting to find a body. What they found was that God had changed the whole relationship with humanity. Just at the point when death thought it had really won.
A relationship that would allow for spiritual rebirth in the Lord, a rebirth that really does affect people's lives.
People like you.
That through faith, people can change for the better, and all because they can come to God as never before and really know they are forgiven. That if they come seeking God's love that they will find it there with open arms.
It's a truly wonderful thing to hear about God's transforming love, be it through baptism or membership or just a personal commitment made between one person and God.
Like in a relationship where things are really rocky, and you have to sit down and have a serious talk about wanting to try and make it work. But in our relationship with God we don't have to wonder about whether the other party will put the effort in.
God already has - this is why Easter's worth celebrating,
The stone was rolled away from Jesus' tomb, for two reasons:
The first was to let Jesus out.
The other was to let us in, to allow us to see and know that God's promises are all true.