Peter went away wondering. The disciples wondered what had happened that first Easter morning and we’re invited to join in with the wondering. What happened? What does it mean? What does it mean for us?
This was my Easter morning talk, which I hope got people (of all ages!) wondering afresh about Easter. It starts with the last verse of the reading, where we’re told that Peter is wondering what has happened. It is partly a reworked version of my Christ is Risen sermon, with a new slant and a new film clip!
Wondering about Easter; Reading: Luke 24:1-12
Peter “went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”
Peter has spent 3 years following Jesus, hearing his teaching and seeing his miracles. And now he’s seen the biggest miracle of them all, the one that Jesus has been going on about for ages and he still doesn’t get it!
Hands up if you think that you’d do a better job than the disciples at working out what was going on!
I’m not so sure we would, you know.
But, whilst we think about that, something a bit different:
[Show Shrek clip]
Who’s seen Shrek?
This next question involves a spoiler alert, but frankly if you’d wanted to watch it, you would have done by now!
So, what happens at the end of Shrek?
The donkey marries the dragon, the princess becomes an ogre, marries another ogre and they all live happily in a swamp.
It’s a happy ending, though perhaps not quite the one you might expect!
Through the film there’s been hints and clues about what’s going to happen. So, even if you hadn’t already guessed, if you watch the film again, you can see the bits that point towards what’s going to happen in the end.
And Easter is rather like that – there are enough hints and clues, if you read through the Gospels. Jesus tried to make it clear to his disciples how things would end. You see the confusion of the disciples as they try and work out what Jesus is going on about. It might not be quite the happy ending you expected, but it’s definitely a happy ending. It’s unexpected. It was certainly not what the disciples were expecting. Because, the disciples were expecting a bit more of a standard Hollywood Happy Ending. They were expecting Jesus the action hero to get rid of the baddies, bring back God’s kingdom, and live happily ever after.
Which is basically what happened, just not at all how the disciples thought that was going to look. The Romans, the baddies they were thinking of, were still there, but sin and death had been defeated. God’s kingdom turned out to be a lot bigger than Israel, and happily ever after is something we’re still looking forward to. And there was and is a lot of pain and struggle between now and happily ever after.
So, another film clip for us:
[Show Forrest Gump clip]
In Forrest Gump we start near the end and then go backwards, so that by the time we’ve caught up it makes sense! We follow Forrest through his life and see all the adventures that he got up to.
Forrest Gump starts with a man sitting on a bench with muddy trainers. At that point we know how things are going to end, but not what has actually happened. As Christians, we know what the end is going to be. Through Jesus’ resurrection we have been shown that we too really can live happily ever after, in new eternal bodies, in a new and perfect world where there is no more crying or mourning or pain.
We know the end, but, like Peter, we’re still wondering what has happened! We’re still working out what the power of the resurrection means for us in our own lives.
Forrest Gump, in that famous quote, talks about life being like a box of chocolates. Which obviously doesn’t work anymore as there are instructions with every box of chocolates I’ve ever had!
So, one final thing to look at:
[Show an Instruction manual – any one will do!]
Hands up in you are the sort of person who reads instruction manuals that are longer than a list of different types of chocolate!
They’re very dull – safety information, a list of every switch, technical information, and usually rather unhelpful troubleshooting tips.
But we don’t get an instruction manual for our life.
We get the Bible instead. That isn’t an instruction manual. It’s far more interesting than that! It’s an invitation to join in with the adventure, a chance to be part of the story, to work out what the power of the resurrection means for us in our own lives.
That’s our exciting adventure, and that’s our happily ever after as well.
God gives us his resurrection power, his Holy Spirit, to help us, to change our lives so that we act and think and speak more like Jesus, more like the person that God wants us to be. And that’s all part of God’s kingdom growing here in Hartshorne. We’re invited to ask God for his resurrection power in our lives, for his love and power to change us. We’re invited to be part of the story.
Why? Because Alleulia! Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed. Alleulia!