Clergy Blogs

Periodic contributions from Revd. Giles King-Smith, Vicar of the three coastal parishes. We also continue to show contributions from the late Associate Minister Revd. Linda Walters
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4 minutes reading time (717 words)

Why are we here? an Easter sermon

Why are we here? I was going to say “Why are you here?”, but that does sound a tiny bit aggressive, and not at all welcoming. So – why are we here? And I don’t mean the big existential question about our place and purpose in the universe, but the slightly more modest one: why are we here in church today?

Well, as always, the non-reasons are a good starting place. First of all, we’re not here because we’re good people. Obviously, being good is a good idea, and most of us are probably pretty good most of the time – but that’s not why we’re here. If it was why we’re here, then the Church would be the unbearably smug, exclusive club that some people think it is. I wouldn’t want to say that we’re here because we’re particularly bad – I’ll leave that between you and God – maybe more that, now that we’re here, our place on the sliding scale between bad and good doesn’t really matter.

And we’re not here because we have our faith all sewn up, all sorted. The strength of our faith is – like our personal attractiveness or our humility – not something we can really know, certainly not something we can measure. And it’s not something fixed or static; like us, our faith is a work in progress, and that progress can, at different times, be snail-like or be supersonic. Our faith includes, and benefits from, doubts and struggles and times of wondering if we should give it all up and take up needlework or fly-fishing instead. We’re here with our ragged faith, because in God’s sight ragged is glorious.

And, of course, we’re not here because we’re especially rich or gifted or popular or beautiful. We may be some of those things, but too much of that stuff can easily take us to a place where we don’t really need God or Church any more.

So – why are we here? I guess there will be lots of small, personal reasons for coming to Church today, involving family or habit or duty or curiosity; but, underlying all of that, maybe a long way down in us, is a sense that it matters, it absolutely matters, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

It absolutely matters that, in a world full of overwhelming sadness and pain, in a world where cruelty and injustice seem so powerful, we are able to discover, in this one astonishing event, the truth that good is stronger than evil, life is stronger than death, love is stronger than hate.

During Lent, as the horrific war in Ukraine has gone on, I’ve kept going back to the question we find in the Psalms: why do the wicked prosper? Or, to put it another way, why doesn’t God intervene to send the Russians packing? Is the God we worship, the God of justice and truth, a weakling? Or is he absent, indifferent to our plight?

The answer is in Jesus himself. In him God chooses to share our human vulnerability and our suffering. He places himself, not above us, not far away somewhere, but with us – right here with us. And the power he wields is entirely the power of love – which, of course, in the turmoil of our world, can seem weaker, fatally weaker, than the power of … power. But, for all the headline defeats it suffers, that power of love never, never stops, never gives up, is never ended. We see it in extraordinary acts of bravery and generosity; we see it in everyday, unremarkable acts of kindness and compassion. As Natali, who has just arrived here from Ukraine with her family, said to me yesterday: “There are more good people than bad people”. And those good people, even halfway good people like you and me, wield no weapons of war, and never have the shallow satisfaction of imposing their will on others. Instead, they have no power but love – the same love from which each of us comes, the same love we will in the end return to. Jesus Christ rises from death to tell us, to show us: Do not be afraid when all seems lost, love has won. That’s why we are here.  

 

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