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Bishop Sarah's Easter Sunday Sermon

You can read Bishop Sarah's sermon given on Easter Sunday 2024 below: 


The Exsultet

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choir of angel!

O Universe, dance around God’s throne!


Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!

The risen Saviour, our Lord of Life, shines upon you!

Let all God’s People sing and shout for joy!


Joy! isn’t it utterly joyful to be here together to welcome Jesus’ resurrection, to journey from the darkness of the cloister pieced by the paschal fire, bearing our own light, to this moment as the light of dawn begins to stream through the great Rose Window and the Christ seated as Lord in Glory at the centre!  

Joy! Isn’t is utterly joyful to see before us the candidates for baptism and confirmation to see and experience truth now that  

‘This is the day when all who believe in him are freed from sin

and restored to grace and holiness,

and share the victory of Christ’


What an amazing gift for all of you who are to be confirmed to have made this journey from darkness to light in this ancient home of faith where countless generations have stood before to declare Jesus as Lord.

It isn’t simply our joy- it is the Joy of the universe, joy of creation, joy of angels, of the heavenly host and of course joy of Jesus. It is almost beyond us to imagine what it was/is like for Jesus to realise he was alive, that his trust in the Father, that final surrender into God’s hands on the cross, ‘it is finished’ was vindicated!  We are told in Hebrew it ‘was for the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross’  - part of that joy is that when we make our final journey through death, trusting in Jesus promises, we too will share in that joy as we gaze on his face, seeing fully on the other side of the grave.

This joy, this hope, this love is to be found in the midst of the realities of life, midst of Empire, violence, of death, of oppression and brokenness, cruelty. The barrier, the blockage, the stone that blocks out light, holds in death, keeps out hope, too vast and great for human strength has been rolled away and gate of gory open, way for love.  A picture of this for me came during the pandemic in 2021 before we could sing and meet together in numbers- I was deeply grateful to be here with just a few others, some here now, perhaps 10/15 only in this vast space, pressing darkness - to see the Paschal Candle lifted high, carried down the Nave, to hear the Exsultet sung forth - in the midst such darkness and see Light of the Risen Christ, our hope, burned even brighter’. It is why in the midst of all the struggles of our world we proclaim the Lordship of Christ and the hope even in the face of the all powers of death as each generation has done.  

And yet …

in Mark’s gospel it is fear, terror, amazement, alarm in the midst of grief that take centre stage for the women - Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome – it’s good to say their names as they’re often forgotten yet are entrusted with the stunning news. For all of the reassurance of the young man who appears to be waiting for them, as angels often do to help us take in the works of God -they leave petrified and speechless -   ‘fled the tomb for terror and amazement had seized them and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid’ - Not a good start but who can blame them! People still think we’ve lost our minds when we  hold to the physical resurrection of Jesus.  


But the women are entrusted with a gift for Jesus friends – both then and today – for all who would follow as disciples, for all who mess up, go wrong and long to begin again, all of us who are simply human and don’t live up to our intensions, for all who are looking for the Risen Jesus.  The ‘young man says to the…


‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking to for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him; just as he told you’.  


Such grace for this will remind his friends of his promise on that Thursday night, after supper, on the Mount of Olives’ on the way to Gethsemane, Mark 14: 26-31

 ‘you will all become deserters for it is written I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered but after I am raised up I will go before to galilee’.

Peter of course says ‘Not me’, They all say the same ‘ and we know what happens.  

Love this part, women who were there at the crucifixion, who use their money resources to support Jesus in Galilee, who followed him from there are sent to tell the men who didn’t, to go home to Galilee, to follow Jesus again – this time without seeing him, to trust that he goes ahead of them, that they will see him there. It is Markan renewal of disciples, their renewed call to follow Jesus who is now the Risen Lord, to start again, go back to where it all began ready for writing the next chapter of the story that they will do as they in turn will be sent out to bear good news to the World.    

As followers of Jesus we are always called back to heart of our discipleship, called home, to remember how and where this all began , to take a deep breath of the Spirit and to begin afresh the next chapter in our live of faith. It isn’t going back but spiralling deeper and deeper into our life in Christ as forgiven, renewed, restored we journey on with the One who has gone before us who we will one day see face to face but now follow in faith. It is why we renew our baptism vows on Easter Day – to come home to Christ and be sent out afresh, forgiven and bearers of life. Now that is joy.  Final word from the  last verse of the  Exultate 

Christ is risen from dead

And his flame of love still burns within us!

Christ sheds his powerful light on all the world

Christ lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

First published on: 31st March 2024
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