Summary: Separating the myths from the God who acts in our lives - a sermon for Easter morning


I have no idea what Easter Bunnies are all about.

Imagine a situation where on the 11th of the 11th - Remembrance Day - shops started selling chocolate grasshoppers.

“Why are you selling chocolate grasshoppers?” “well grasshoppers sort of go with poppies don’t they - and as we look at the cute little grasshoppers we can think of the beautiful red poppies”

“Yes , but what has that got to do with Remembrance Day”

“Does it matter? The children like eating them…”

And people would start telling little stories about “Once upon a time there was a Remembrance Grass Hopper….”

Well at worst - a lot of people would be highly offended. After the sacrifice of so many soldiers in the first and second world wars, isn’t it trivialising and offensive to be telling stories about chocolate grasshoppers?

Some of us would be not so much offended as anxious. There’s an important message about armistice day coming out of the horrific historical events of the twentieth century. If the history got lost behind fairy tales and commercialism then that message could get lost.

So it is with bunnies.

According to yesterday’s Times, Easter is apparently the second biggest retail event of the year after Christmas.  But amidst the chocolate, fairy tales and commercialism, you can forget the history. Easter is first and foremost an event in which God breaks into history.

The narrative is just full of things which just wouldn’t be there if they weren’t true. They are too embarrassing to be made up. Or too odd.

Why for example the mass? We read throughout the Gospels of Jesus predicting that he would die on a cross and three days later he would rise again. “Oh, people just wrote that back after the event” say the sceptics. But then why does Jesus take a Passover meal and say over the Matzoh “this is my body given for you” and over the cup of blessing “This is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”. It’s too odd a thing to do, and too integral to the practise of the early Christians to have been written back after the event.

Or Why Judas? Who would want to make up a story about one of Jesus’s closest friends betraying him if it never happened?

Or why - in today’s Gospel reading - was it Mary Magdalene and other women who were the first witnesses of the resurrection.  The first century world was sexist. Women were not considered as reliable witnesses. So if you are going to make it up, surely you have Peter and John as the first witnesses of the resurrection, not Mary Magdalene.

Time and again the story is full of things that nobody would have made up, because actually it happened.

A unique event that has never happened at any other point in history happened. God raised Jesus from the dead.

God isn’t a God who hides himself up there (point to ceiling) so you no more know whether he is real than you do the Easter bunny. God is a God who is actively involved in our world.

Last Sunday I shared with you the story of {name removed} . This young mum in her 30s has had a hard life. Her other died when her kids were tiny. Her youngest never even knew him. Then a few months ago she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The doctors were going to operate. They told her to prepare for the worst because they didn’t have the technology to remove fully the two tumours. But Christians were praying. And she woke up from the operation to find the surgeons astounded. Somehow, they don’t know how, they had managed to totally remove both tumours and she was in the clear.  That is a God who is actively involved in our world.

I could tell the story of Rita, an old lady we prayed for. Rita was foolish. She was knew something was wrong, but she kept on putting off going to the doctors. By the time she got there the cancer was too advanced. She was told she had a few months to live. But Christians were praying. There was no lightening bolt healing. But three months later she wasn’t dead. In fact three years later she wasn’t dead. The cancer was in remission and though she was frailer than before, the last time I heard she was doing well. This is a God who is actively involved in our world.

This is a God who rolls back the stone and raises Jesus from the dead. Something happened in history that has changed history for ever since.

Of course you have to keep your eyes open. To someone who didn’t know that my friends {name removed} and Rita had been prayed for, it might seem pure coincidence that they had recovered. A strange unexplained thing from which no lessons could be learnt.

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