Could it be true?
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 12th April 2020
An unusual Easter Sunday. With the country in lockdown and churches closed, there was no joining together in worship this morning. But we do have YouTube, and we have a service ready to broadcast. Two false starts here, te tittle round spinny thing on the screen showed the video was not downloading. Restarting the computer and running no other programs did not help. Checking the computer out showed no problems, but no signal was getting to or from Youtube. They must have been under a great load this morning. Going away and coming back in the early afternoon fixed it, though the church-made portions still loaded slower than the professionally produced parts for songs poems and other things.
Data log-jams apart, it was worth waiting for.
The service leader and Vicar Mike were curiously standing while the recorded their parts. I can’t see why, they both did not move from the spot. It is possible they were sat on tall stools out of shot from the chest up presentations, but this is the presentation style used over the last few weeks. Seeing a it was shot at home I can’t help thinking that preaching from an armchair would have been comfier. However Vicar Mike has young children, he may have needed to isolate himself more than the government recommended for the shoot.
Anyway, this is how the sermon went, my notes were made live, like I would have in church, so that what follows is what struck me from the sermon. The sermon can be found here (part1), and here (part 2). Here is my take on the sermon:
Can it possibly be true. It seems so unbelievable. I am talking about coronavirus. Who would have thought that in only a few weeks it could have changed things this much? It is a global problem. 1.5 million affected and 90,000 died. The Sun has in the last week urged people to pray for Boris Johnson. Unbelievable a month ago.
Could the resurrection be true? Surely that is unbelievable. Luke says the disciples did not believe the women who came with the news. Paul said in 1 Corinthians that if Christ has not been raised then preaching and belief is in vain.
The resurrection is so unbelievable that various explanations have been suggested:
One suggestion is that Jesus was not dead. The Romans were expert executioners, but somehow Jesus was not dead and somehow was strong enough to roll the tone away and overcome the guards.
Another is that the Disciples manufactured the story, hiding the body. The problem is that they all died in persecution. Would they all be prepared to die for a lie?
Or is it a myth devoid of factual reality?
Gethsemene has come to our hospitals, people having to face up to their own mortality. If the resurrection is not true then forgiveness is a distant dream could it possibly be true?
What appears to be nonsense is revealed to be true in Jesus. The disciples had seen Jesus be arrested, taken to be tortured and die. It is finished. they must have been depressed.
But when they reached the tomb it was not as they had imagined. John stepped into the tomb and he saw and he believed. For John what changed things was the empty tomb. For Mary, it was a personal encounter with Jesus. Peter had to deal with past sins. Paul had an encounter on the road. Encounter led to faith.
To believe is more than agreeing its true. It is to meet a person raised from dead. We have met him because he is alive. The ultimate reality has broken in. Jesus who once was dead invites us into that reality that we can be alive
Death is defeated. Technicolor life that stretches into eternity is available. Jesus is alive. We find fulness of life in Jesus for now into eternity.