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Thoughts for Easter

Homily for Easter 2011

 “ Better Kate than never”

 Well, it’s the event that everybody seems to be talking about, some with more enthusiasm than others.

 “ It’s good because it takes our mind off all the gloom and doom” I have heard said.

So, are you a lover of the REoyals and can’t wait to celebrate with them next Friday – or are you rather disenchanted with it all and will make a point of avoiding all the hype?

 Have you bought any of the memorabilia yet which has been produced for the day?

It is thought that the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton next Friday will  provide a £527.1 million boost for UK retailers.

The Government of course  decided to make April 29th a bank holiday and on that day someone has estimated that in the UK £4.6M will be spent every hour – a lot of it on food and drink –including £9M on champagne. Then there is the vast array of memorabilia – from coins, mugs, pottery, replica jewellry, specially brewed beer and underwear with Will and Kate blazoned over the front or back. Own up – have any of you acquired any yet?

Its not a totally new idea of course – here is a commemoration mug of June 22nd 1911 – nearly 100 years old – Queen Mary and George V. ( out with my visual aid!)

Amongst all the Kate and William merchandise a brand called  “Better Kate than Never” caught my eye. Ted Baker is a London designer who has come up with a collection of items which he is selling in the USA including underwear, bull dogs, handbags and scarves  – all with colourful royal motifs – and I heard on the radio yesterday that there are tee shirts around with “ Better Kate than Never” across the front.

Whilst some will be avoiding it all costs – billions in this country and across the world will be watching on TV, online, from their mobile phones and other internet gadgets

Why the huge popularity? Here is one suggestion…

“ Social media and the blogosphere can act as a kind of “echo chamber”. People get each other excited about an event, and then feed off of each other’s excitement. It has the effect of increasing exponentially the degree to which people anticipate and talk about an event”  In other words,  enthusiasm spreads like fire in a dry forest.

That first Easter morning, there was no internet to get the message round that something amazing had happened. Mary Magdalene, when she encountered the risen Lord in the garden, couldn’t put her hand to her iphone and text her friends “ The Lord is risen! Come and see!”

Everything was by word of mouth, everything done by running and walking and talking face to face. There were no video cameras hiding in the olive groves or mobile phones ready to snap the scene as the grave clothes lay on the slab in the tomb. No controversial shots of angels,  or pictures of the Risen Lord with the marks of torture on his hands. It was all done by  excited words and hearts beating for ecstatic joy and wonder.

Neither did anyone start making commemorative mugs or tunics with “ He is Risen “ across the front. All those first witnesses of the resurrection had to go on was their own experience of Jesus – risen from the dead. They had total confidence that their beloved Lord and master had overcome death and was out and about among them. The news, spread by word of mouth, must have stunned their audiences.

 He appeared to hundreds of them according to Paul, he walked with friends on the road to Emmaus. He appeared in an upper room and even invited Thomas – who needed a bit more evidence to start with than some – to touch him. Can you imagine how today’s media would have handled this Royal event – the Messiah, God’s annointed King, crucified yet risen from the dead.

I say we have no memorabilia on this Easter day of that turning point in human history. I suppose we could say we have those charming symbols of new life – eggs which can give us, if we care to put the chocolate to one side, a pleasant reminder of new life breaking out of the tomb. We have bunnies, flowers and lambs – all spring reminders of new life  and by association of the new life that Jesus gives us. We have too the cross – the powerful  and perennial symbol of all that Jesus did for us and our troubled world. when he died in such a cruel way.

But may I suggest one other thing that each of us may like to cultivate not just during this Easter season but every day of our lives. “ Better Kate than Never” runs the commercial tag on the Kate and William merchandise. It’s a pun of course on the phrase  “Better late than never”

It’s never too late to find something new out about Gods love for us. Never too late to try and grapple with the ever present reality of pain and suffering in our world and make sense of it against the background of God’s immersion in every part of human living. Never too late to understand, as Helen Keller wrote “ Although the world is full of suffering, it is  full also of the overcoming of it”

I read in my safe warm spring garden yesterday an article in the Church Times this week by chaplain in Afghanistan, Antony Feltham-White. Some of us met him last year when he preached at Great Paxton. He writes of how some of his soldiers from 2nd battalion the parachute regiment had cleared a village of IEDs – those vicious improvised explosive devices and brought  the village “ back from the dead” . Once again its inhabitants  could return and rebuild their lives. In the course of this clearing, one of his soldiers died – a life shed to bring new life to others.  “ God has shown me that whenever I confront death, there also will I find life”. Humbling words from a man who has seen far more trauma and pain than most of us thankfully ever will.

Even in the saddest, most harrowing of circumstances, it is never too late to find a strand of resurrection life. I’m sure we all wish our royal prince and princess every good wish on Friday and a long and happy marriage. But long after the champagne has been drunk and the bunting has come down, we have something in our hearts that can transform our lives and the world around us day by day.

“ He is Risen from the dead!” exclaims Mary – words which miraculously have reached us down the centuries – and are as fresh and relevant as they ever were. May his resurrection life fill the dark places of our lives, give us renewed courage as we negotiate life’s twists and turns and give meaning to all that we experience and strive for. Amen.

The Easter Font – Little Paxton Church

April 23, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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