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Good News for all
An Easter message from Canon David Staples
A former Bishop of Sheffield, Leslie Hunter, used to say that every clergyman has three basic sermons which he preaches in a variety of ways. There is much truth in this. I believe that those three sermons illustrate one theme.
That theme is: “Christ is Risen.” From this truth all else springs. Accept it and the logical conclusion is that response of wonder, love and praise which has been at the same time the inspiration and the dynamic of the Church as it meets as a corporate body Sunday by Sunday for worship and scatters for work in the week.
Reject it and the conclusion is that worship as Christians know it is an empty and vain exercise. Easter reminds us that the Christian way is not a kind of do-goodism to which a few religious ideas may be attached, nor is worship an optional extra for the particularly pious, nor a pathetic eccentricity.
The Christian way is a joyful and living response to what God has done for us in and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that response is expressed first in worship which in its turn helps us to lead an appropriate style of life.
The truth of the claim implicit in the Good News of the Gospel we discover as we live in a way which is consistent with it, and only if we do so. Like all the really important things in life, marriage, parenting, bereavement, we learn it by doing it. We have to learn for ourselves and sometimes we get it right, sometimes wrong. No one can do it for us.
Christians, then, make a distinctive claim and live a distinctive way of life. The claim is the Good News of the Easter Gospel. The life-style is a life centred on God in a loving response to his prior love for us. The claim and the life go together, and one without the other is inconsistent.
As St. Paul says: “If there be no resurrection, then Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, then our gospel is null and void, and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15: 14). Either it is true or it is not. If it is not, then, in the words of St. Paul “we are of all men most to be pitied.”
But we find out if it is true by living it. Alleluiah.