Easter Sunday

by Matthew B. Harper

Mark 16:6 – But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that without Easter all our hopes are in vain. I agree. Easter is the undeniable declaration that God is in command, and God is triumphant over the forces of the world that will steal, kill, and destroy. Whatever evil you know, whatever sins you are responsible for, whatever it is that you struggle with, God is over it all.

It is easy for me to understand a God of punishment, but my mind cannot rationalize a God of grace. A God who sets the rules and punishes the people who break them, this makes sense to me. I’m in prison, and as much as I want to go home, being here makes sense. You break a rule, you get punished, and that is rational. But to think that when I break a rule, God accepts the punishment so that I might be forgiven, this I don’t understand. I can only accept it humbly.

But to accept it and simply move on is to denigrate all that has been done. When much is given, much is expected. We know this, we accept this, and then we cry about how little we have. Oh how wrong we are. All of us have been given so very much, and now very much is expected of us.

Our Faith must become more than a simple belief. God must be our experiential reality. Jesus called our faith in God the stone foundation upon which we build our house. Everything we build must be rooted and grounded in God. If it isn’t, then it is only destined to be our shame and our failure.

We use words like ‘sanctified’ to describe what has happened to us. Have you ever considered what sanctified entails? Sanctified is twofold; first you must be sanctified from the world and your fallen nature, second you must be sanctified to God. All too often we miss this second part.

Jesus warned that when we sweep the demons out of our house, we are prone to have a tenfold of demons come raging back in. When we first sweep the demons out, we must fill the space back up with something in their place, and that something is God.

Too many of us have the means to live, but nothing to live for. In prison the bare requirements of life are met, but there is no reason unless you seek out a reason. And it is easy to look at any inmate and tell if they have a reason for living or not. The inmates who don’t have a reason don’t make it. They don’t make it in prison; they don’t make it in life. And neither do a lot of people out in the world. We were not made to be empty. We were made to be filled by God.

You have been sanctified to God. The Grace of God has justified you. And there is nothing you can do to affect God’s love for you. You have a lot of power, but you do not have the power to make God love you even a little less. That isn’t a free ticket to sin, but it is strength to rely upon when you step out into the world.

So I thank you for making this journey with me. And if you learn nothing else from me, learn that you are loved and sanctified in spite of what you have done and who you are. There is nothing that can put you beyond redemption. This isn’t a promise that the Christian life is easy—I can guarantee you that it can be very hard—but it is a promise that you will never be alone or without purpose. Solitary confinement may be the worst punishment man has ever devised for human being, but for a Christian it simply doesn’t exist. A Christian is never alone, never unloved, and a Christian life is never without meaning, never without purpose. Amen.

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by His glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant to us to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with Him in the joy of His resurrection; through the same thy Son Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” BCP170

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