Search

Bishop of Dover’s Easter message: Behold the power of the resurrection

PUBLISHED: 06:41 16 April 2017

Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover. Pic: Ady Kerry

Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover. Pic: Ady Kerry

Ady Kerry /AK Pictures

The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, Bishop of Dover, reflects on life, death and rebirth

Shock. Amazement. Disbelief. Fear.

When Jesus’ disciples discovered that their Lord had risen from the dead you could’ve knocked them over with a feather.

They went to Jesus’ grave to observe the rituals of their grief – to anoint Christ’s body, to do what was required of them – not because that would make anything better, it was simply what you did in such situations.

Yet they found themselves confronted with an empty tomb and heavenly messengers declaring the words that changed everything: “He is not here. He is risen.”

I think it’s a tragedy that we’ve become so comfortable with the Easter story that it somehow fails to surprise us anymore. We’ve heard the story too many times, we know the ending – and over time the resurrection becomes something we sit easily with, something that seems to make sense – our fairy tale ‘happy ever after’.

That’s how the story always ends… right?

We fail to stand amazed at the empty tomb. We shrug off Christ’s death as if it were mere inconvenience - play-acting, rather than a concrete ending.

But dead people simply do not come back to life. No matter how hard we hope and wish it were otherwise, it doesn’t happen today and it didn’t happen back in first century Palestine.

There’s nothing more final than death – or so we tend to think.

The resurrection is a scandal, a contradiction of the way we know the world works. And yet there Christ is; standing before his friends, speaking, eating, showing them his battle scars. A living, breathing contradiction.

Jesus changes everything. Forget what you thought you knew about life and death.

Believing in the resurrection is not just a form of optimism – an ‘it’ll be alright in the end’. It’s deeper and broader and far more demanding than that.

The story of Jesus rising from the tomb should stop us dead in our tracks. We must unlearn our weariness with the narrative, hear it for what it truly is. We must follow our feet and stand astonished with the disciples at the empty tomb, for truly, there is no such thing as a ‘lost cause’ in God’s kingdom, nothing is beyond redemption.

This sounds like an audacious claim because, frankly, that’s precisely what it is.

The resurrection is anything but humdrum.

Nor is resurrection just about putting things back to how they were before. Jesus endured torture and death before he could come out the other side, and his resurrected body bore the scars and the weight of that reality.

His resurrection didn’t ‘undo’ death as though it had never happened – he was revived, restored, but also somehow changed.

So it is when we experience a dramatic turnaround in our own lives – the healed body does not forget its illness, the mother reunited with her child does not forget the pain of separation. Instead of superficially ‘fixing’ what was broken, resurrection demands nothing less than transformation: transformation of body, of spirit, of relationship.

And resurrection isn’t just God’s business – it’s ours too, if we choose to follow him.

An invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to take up one’s cross, to walk the dark and difficult road to where, apparently, it all ends. But it’s also an invitation to share in Christ’s resurrection life and body.

The Church is often referred to as ‘the body of Christ’ in the world today. If we are to take this designation seriously, we must act like the body of Christ – like those who have endured pain and suffering in the service of others, but who have also experienced God’s resurrection, the transformation of our own lives.

And such transformation is never a purely personal affair – it must be for the greater good, the wider community: transformed people naturally offer transformation to others. We are called to nothing less than this: to live lives transformed by God’s audacious love so that those around us may know resurrection, transformation and hope.

For that I offer this prayer this Easter:

God of lost causes and no hopers,

Fix in our hearts the scandal of the resurrection.

Astonish us with your power and love,

So that we may be challenged anew to live transformed lives

For the sake of your kingdom.

Amen.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Kent News visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Kent News staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Kent News account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other popular content

Yesterday, 09:59

Helen Whately spoke out in the House of Commons this week on the mounting fears over the future of the hospital site

Wed, 15:27

Principal of one of the county’s leading college groups on the benefits of securing the qualifications you need

Wed, 08:17

Bosses say it will not affect the timing of the planned development consent order submission in November

Tue, 17:26

The 18-year-old impressed during loan spells at East Grinstead and Sevenoaks Town

Digital edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
Kent Life Food & Drink awards 2016. Open for entries.

Most read

Local business directory

Kent's trusted business finder