Today, on this Easter morning, we stand... we stand together before the cross, the cross of Jesus. As the sun rises we experience the change from darkness into light. And we are reminded of God's risen son Jesus, Light of the World, and of our Christian hope of eternal life.
In John 3:16 the Bible tells us 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' In his New Testament translation 'Who?', Paul Langham records Jesus saying this: 'God gave his greatest treasure, his one and only Son. Everyone who trusts in me will burst through death into eternal life.'
The cross remains the symbol of Christianity, nearly 2000 years since Jesus' crucifixion. The idea of Roman crucifixion was execution, to bring about a prolonged and painful death to the victim, but also to strike fear into any witnesses, friends or family of the condemned.
At Easter the world is reminded of the message of Christian hope, which overcomes our human fear; however that might manifest itself in our lives. Fear - F E A R, because without God we may often find ourselves being Frightened, Envious, Angry & Resentful.
As believers, with God, we have Christian Hope - H O P E.
H: with God we are made Holy, set apart.
O: with God He gives us Opportunities, opportunities to be obedient, to do His will.
P: with God we live with His Promises as set out in His Word.
And E: One of God's many promises is Eternity, to live with Him forever, in our hearts today and with the love of God in our tomorrows, in His heavenly realm. At Easter we celebrate Jesus' resurrection, new life over death, hope over fear. H O P E: Holy, Opportunities, with Promises & for Eternity.
Barack Obama's first inaugural address as president of America in 2009 was called 'Hope over fear', a title he took from one of his pastor's sermons. In his address Barack said "On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." The President concluded his speech by saying. "with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom ... to future generations."
So today we gather, as members of the body of Christ, choosing a living hope over fear. With our eyes fixed on the horizon, with God's grace, with freedom from the chains of the evil one, with faith, sharing the good news of Christ with this and future generations.
St Peter says 'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.'
May the Easter message of Hope, Hope overcoming Fear, be with you today and always. Amen