Thursday, April 02, 2015

An Easter reply to Mr Cameron

with an idea stolen from The Revd Dr Thomas Renz
what I am thinking of preaching at the 8am on Sunday

Acts 10 vv34-43 & John 20 vv1-18 

The Prime Minister recently contributed an article to a Christian magazine in which he tried to tell us about the heart of the Christian message and what Easter is all about.

Let me quote it to you:

He says:

“So I end my argument with this: I hope everyone can share in the belief of trying to lift people up rather than count people out. Those values and principles are not the exclusive preserve of one faith or religion. They are something I hope everyone in our country believes.

That after all is the heart of the Christian message. It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built. Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever.”

You may or may not agree with Mr Cameron’s politics, but I have to tell you that is breathtakingly bad theology.

The Prime Minister has forgotten the schoolboy lesson that Christianity is about Christ and that the message of Easter should mention the death and resurrection of Our Lord.

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently said that preachers need to stop preaching the moral clap trap that says “wouldn’t it be nice if we were all a bit nicer” and he warned against reducing Christianity to morality, so let’s see if we can’t do a little better than the Prime Minister.

That first Easter Sunday morning the women might have been thinking about responsibility and doing the right thing as they went to anoint Jesus’ dead body with spices, but God had made all their hard work redundant by raising Jesus from the dead.
God had lifted up Jesus when everyone had counted him out.  
Easter is above all about what God has done before it’s about what we must do.
It’s about the resurrection power of God – not an exhortation to pull our moral socks up and work harder.

Easter is really all about remembering the empty tomb and the risen Lord Jesus.
It’s about the fact that Jesus Christ is alive and by his resurrection he is proved to be Lord.

So you could say Easter is about the importance of change – but not about creating jobs or improving the economy or whatever might be on the politicans’ minds.
Easter is about the most radical transformation possible - a change from death to life.  
It’s about the forgiveness of sins, about the power of death broken.
Easter does bring about a change for the disciples:
Mary’s tears are turned to joy as she meets her risen Lord.
Easter is about a personal life-changing encounter with the risen Jesus.  

Of course the resurrection is a call to change – a summons to the change the Bible calls repentance, which literally means a change of mind.
Because Jesus has been raised from the dead, those who have not yet believed in him need to re-think who he was.
Easter tells us that we haven’t done the right thing.
All of us are in need of a crucified and risen Saviour.
The resurrection tells us that change is possible in the sense that forgiveness is available to all those who put their trust in Christ.
Spiritually we are dead in our sins and if we are to really change we need the supernatural life-changing power of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing less than a resurrection will do.
The Christian manifesto is that Jesus Christ is the one whom God has appointed as judge of the living and the dead, and that he calls on us to make our peace with him.  

I hope that is something we all believe.
It is a message that matters now as much as ever.

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