Easter Sunday – Sunday 8th April 2012
John 20: 1-18
In my teenage years, and into my early twenties, every Easter was spent at a different Congregational Church in England. Along with up to 100 other young people I attended the Congregational Federation Youth (CFY) Easter Conference. In fact, I was privileged for a number of years to actually help organise and lead some of them.
My one abiding memory of these conferences was the anticipation, the expectation. My second was of sleep deprivation … but let’s stay with that first memory. I always had an excitement about meeting with the other young people, listening to a challenging speaker, knowing that God was swirling in and about and touching lives in ways that we could never predict or understand. Edgy, raw worship, powerful prayer, youthful energy and enthusiasm, a hopeful belief, the gifting of the Holy Spirit, friendship, a blood-and-thunder football match between the north and south … it was all there.
Twenty five years later … I sometimes wonder where all that freshness has gone from my faith. All that exuberance. All that wonder.
And yet, to begin to read those words … “Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance…” … a tingle still makes its way down my back. I know that my desire, my belief, my purpose still resides in the One who rose from the dead. I know that my calling all hangs on that amazing gift of love freely given to me by a wondrous God of love. It’s perhaps just my expression of faith has changed. Slowed down … is that the phrase? Or is it, Matured?
If anything, I’m more fervent in prayer now, because I’m a little bit cautious and ponderous in my faith, less given to spontaneity. You know, those prayers where you say, “You want me to do THAT, Lord?”, whereas twenty five years ago it was simply, “Bring it on, Lord!”
Ok. I may have one or two grey hairs now, feel the occasional twinge and ache, and am definitely in bed at a very early hour these days, but God is even more gracious today than twenty five years ago. My faith has deepened, my blessings have been enriched, the challenges are still momentous, God is still good. That is why I will still celebrate Easter with the heart of a twentysomething, and the body of a forthysomething!
And I’ll be singing with every ounce of my being one of those songs discovered long ago in my youth…
You’re alive, You’re alive, You have risen, Alleluia!
And the power and the glory is given, Alleluia, Jesus, to You.
Amen. Amen. Amen.