Homily for Easter 2007

We have lit the Easter fire. Yet much of our lives are in darkness.

Easter has come. Yet there is still darkness in our world.

Christ is risen. Yet death still overcomes us.

But we have prayed over the new Easter fire, "Make this fire holy, and inflame us with new hope."

Easter eggs for over 700 people were delivered by the young people this morning. It was a real Stations of the Cross for some of them to make that pilgrimage of faith and care to the elderly people. For some it was an ordeal to confront people in decline and dementia.

Eggs have become a primary symbol of Easter. Eggs are like little tombs within which new life awaits. Eggs were connected with Easter long ago because they were forbidden during Lent. So they became special Easter treats. So different ways of presenting them arose. To express the joy of Easter eggs were highly decorated and exchanged. Some places pierced the eggs and emptied the contents. These were then decorated and hung as ornaments. On some cultures a blessed egg was buried outside the house to ward of disease and misfortune.

We have all heard those kind of customs. The Easter egg can still help focus our prayer as we think about the empty tomb and the new life that sprung from it. The egg is like a womb and it is also paradoxically like a tomb.

This is the first day of the new creation.

St Augustine is quoted somewhere as saying that only a lover can believe in the resurrection. Only someone who loves can believe the extraordinary transformation that resurrection is. Because a lover knows how he or she is changed by love. And love alone is strong enough to change us. And it is God's love for Jesus that is strong enough and creative enough to overcome even death. So we look in vain for rational explanation of Jesus resurrection. We find clues pointing to it, like the empty tomb and the witness of Mary Magdalene and the apostles. But like them we are initially confused and wondering. It is when they meet the risen Lord face to face that they are convinced.

We too, if we love one another, will meet the risen Lord. We will recognise the transformation that has taken place in us by our baptism making us God's children. The darkness of our lives many not yet be all banished but the light has begun to shine. With that grace we can continue.

Tonight although there are no baptisms we remember with joy all those who have been baptised over the past year beginning with Jenny, Gwen, and Jan last Easter. It is the baptismal anniversary of us all.

I offer this quote from St Augustine in a homily to the newly baptised:

"I speak to you who have just been reborn in baptism, my little children in Christ, you who are the new offspring of the Church, gift of the Father, proof of Mother Church's fruitfulness. All of you who stand fast in the Lord are a holy seed, a new colony of bees, the very flower of our ministry and fruit of our toil, my joy and my crown. It is the words of the Apostle that I address to you: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its desires, so that you may be clothed with the life of him whom you have put on in this sacrament. You have all been clothed with Christ by your baptism in him. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Such is the power of this sacrament: it is a sacrament of new life which begins here and now with the forgiveness of all past sins, and will be brought to completion in the resurrection of the dead."

St Paul invites us to remember that in our Reading from his letter to the Romans tonight (Romans 6:3-11). Let us proclaim with joy the new life we have in Christ as we renew our Baptism promises.

Fr Graham