Sermon by Canon Adrian Ling CMP, Saturday 3rd April 2021
Gospel: Mark 16:1-8
Peck peck peck
on the warm brown egg
Out comes a neck
Out comes a leg
How does a chick
Who’s not been about
Discover the trick
Of how to get out?
Instinct is a wonderful thing. There they are in the dark until they bash the sides with their beaks and shatter the shell to emerge into the world. The chick bursting from the egg is a symbol of the risen Christ emerging from the tomb. Indeed now Easter is now more widely known for Easter eggs rather than the resurrection of Jesus.
In the gospel tonight, it as though we find an empty shell. We are with the 3 Marys who go to the tomb sometime before dawn and find it empty. Tonight we are at the sepulchre with the mysterious man in white, a messenger, an angel, who reassures them and tells them of the rising of Jesus. On Easter Day we will hear the report proved true as the risen Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene.
But tonight the empty tomb is our focus, cause of bewilderment and fear but also a sign of hope.
What we have experienced in the last 12 months has been like one long Lent and the last lockdown might also be compared to an entombment. For many the third lockdown has been the hardest, with the short winter days, and long hours of darkness and without the respite of a sunny garden.
But now we are beginning to emerge from this tomb. It is good timing that the easing of restrictions coincides with Easter, the time when hope is restored by the rising of Jesus.
Many people are as determined as the chick bursting from the egg to get out and about and be active once again. However for some of us it will be a more difficult prospect, because we are nervous and afraid, because we have lost our confidence, we have got out of the habit of socialising, we may have grown indolent. Misanthropes and curmudgeons will have quite enjoyed the time of solitude and be reluctant to have to interact with the rest of the human race once again.
Perhaps we will emerge from the lockdown sepulchre, slowly and cautiously. The past 12 months have shown the futility of making plans, only for them to be frustrated. Do we still have hopes and aspirations? Have we stored them up? One experience of the past 12 months is that it teaches us to do what we can while we have the opportunity, because we never know how long it will last. Now is the time to renew our hopes and priorities. Our initial aspirations may just be small ones: a coffee with a friend; a visit from family or friends; a pint in the pub, a haircut even.
The messenger instructs the women to tell Peter and the disciples to search for Jesus in Galilee the place of life, not to look for him in the place of his death. At the empty tomb we begin to celebrate the great renaissance, the renewal of life. Let us give thanks for this restoration of hope. Taking the risen Jesus as our inspiration, let us help each other out of our entombment. We need not be afraid. Let us learn once again to celebrate, be joyful and love life.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!