How do you see the Resurrection? What we celebrate on Easter Sunday is a ‘mystery’, in the best sense of that word. It is deep truth and reality. So, like any deep truth and reality, it is therefore beyond our ordinary human understanding. Rather it is an invitation into a greater, divine, understanding. So will we be like good detectives and follow the clues to discover a little more of the meaning of this mystery? Will we, like our Gospel writers, own and share this mystery in our own words and actions? Will we, like great artists, allow God to enable us to picture the Resurrection for ourselves and others?...
So how do you see the Resurrection? That is the little challenge our church is throwing out to each of us this Easter. Indeed, you may have seen that question – how do you see the Resurrection? - in the little display at the back of this church building as you came in this morning. A few of those who attended our Easterfest concerts here yesterday have already had a go at answering the question for themselves. Can we add to what they have shared?
To help us see and express our own sense of Resurrection, there are also twenty fine pictures of Resurrection at the back of this church building. They come from different times in history, different cultures, different contexts. All of them however are responses to the action of God in the Resurrection of Jesus. Each one draws on the accounts and experience of Scripture, and each one, like the first artists of the Resurrection – the Gospel writers and St Paul – puts this holy mystery in their own way. In doing so, each one expresses some of the great clues to Christ’s meaning and truth. Some of their pictures may touch us. Some of them may leave us cold. But each one is there to help inspire us. For how do we see this meaning and truth?
What do you see in this picture?...
We are inside the tomb, aren’t we? We are with Jesus as life returns to his body. Two angels are guarding him while a third is stepping forward to open the door of the tomb. The stone has been rolled away and we are able to see past the angel into the chilly outside world. It is in darkness, waiting for Christ's light. Wow! It is quite a picture, and an unusual one. For artists almost always present the Risen Christ from outside the tomb, don’t they? Most Resurrection pictures oeither invite us to look into the tomb or to watch Christ as he emerges. What Blake has done, among other things, is to remind us that Resurrection does not begin with us. The Resurrection begins with God. Our first task as Christians, as Resurrection people, is therefore to trust, and open ourselves to God. We have to be open to the mystery which is the love of God. For Resurrection begins with the Inspiration of God.
It is a modern image, isn’t it? It is set in the Middle East and it speaks of resurrection hope amind the poverty, the rubbish and the ecological waste which lie just beneath the surface of our modern world’s glitz and show. Two gigantic bloody feet fill up half the frame. For Jesus has just emerged from his grave, victorious over death, and yet a caravan of people, probably tourists, rides right by, oblivious. Wow! This piece of art asks us important questions about the present. Are we looking for God in the right places? Do we see that true Resurrection hope for us, and for our world, begins by facing and bearing the wounds and waste of our world? Are we also simply tourists in our lives, or do we want to be deeper, truer people? The grass and flowers in the picture are beautiful signs of Resurrection, aren’t they? For where the risen Christ stands and moves, there a new creation begins. In Christ, new life comes into the waste places of our lives and world. Our second task as Christians, as Resurrection people, is therefore to stand with Christ, and walk with God. We have to be open, in our own hearts, to the mystery which is the love of God. For Resurrection begins with the Inspiration of God and it grows out of Intimacy with God.
What do you see in this picture?...
One of the first things we may notice in this picture is that the light in it has no source but itself. For the light is not like natural light, is it? It has a fluid-like otherworldly appearance. Yet the light also, easily and naturally, integrates itself with it surroundings. The light imdeed radiates into the darkness, as a beacon of hope and illumination, Wow! What a wonderful modern portrayal of what the great ancient Christian theologians called ‘the uncreated light’, which is the light of Christ. In this picture, the central rectangle of light is also surrounded by the shadow of cross, a reminder of the unity of the mystery of the cross and resurrection. For Christ’s death and resurrection cannot be separated and it is only through entering into both that we can share in Christ’s new life. Through the framing of the cross, a door is created. On one level this reminds us of the empty tomb. Yet, on another level, it entices and calls us to enter through it into risen life with Christ. For our third task as Christians, as Resurrection people, is therefore to recognise the light of Christ, and step out into it. We have to be open, in every moment of our present and future lives, to the mystery which is the love of God. For Resurrection begins with the Inspiration of God. It grows out of Intimacy with God. And it is manifested in taking up the Invitation of God.
So, how do we see the Resurrection this morning? What word, or set of words, might we write down and add to the display at the back of this building? What picture might we draw? Most importantly, what is it about the Resurrection that we want to share with others? Have a think about it, now and in the days to come. Pray about it. Read the Gospel accounts and reflect on them. Let God speak to you, through the scriptures, through the art and words aof others, and through what stirs in your own hearts. Trust in the Inspiration of God: know that God seeks to bring new life in the deathly places of our own lives. Grow in the Intimacy of God: allow God to cultivate a garden in the waste places of our own hearts and world. And take up the Invitation of God: step out into the uncreated Light which breaks out of every tomb, transforms every darkness, and reigns eternal over every death.
In the name of the Light of Light, the Resurrected One: the One in whom we find our true Inspiration, our deepest Intimacy, and our most loving Invitation: in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.