By Simon Cuff
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Tonight, the God who created us recreates us in Christ.
Tonight, the God who promised Abraham his descendants would be many delivers on his promises.
Tonight, the God who brought the people of Israel to freedom frees us from the slavery of death.
Tonight, the God who promised Ezekiel he would remove our hearts of stone pours himself into our hearts, transforms our flesh.
Tonight, the God who was crucified in Christ has killed death. He has died with us, so we might live with him.
Tonight, death received a body and encountered that God.
Tonight, life defeats death.
Tonight, Jesus Christ breaks open all that holds us back, smashes open all our cycles of despair.
Tonight, he is going ahead of you; there you will see him.
Jesus Christ is going ahead of us; there you will see him. We say we’re followers of Christ, but we don’t often think through what this means. To follow Christ is to always be playing catch-up.
The Christian life is a life of constant catch-up. Catching up to where Christ is already ahead of us, joining in with where Christ has already led the way. Realizing that where we’ve come to, Christ has been all along. Jesus Christ is going ahead of us; there you will see him.
Jesus leads us into being. He leads us into new life. He leads us through Good Friday to Easter, from death to life. We can’t escape death. We all have to die. But tonight means that death is never the final word on what it means to be alive.
Tonight, we remember where following Christ will lead us. Through death, to life. Death is defeated. Christ has gone ahead of us.
And how do we respond? All too often we drag our feet. We’re slow to react. We get distracted, or lazy. We lose sight of where Christ is leading us, where he’s asking us to go. We find ourselves sinking, sliding back into the nothingness out of which Christ calls us. We find ourselves in despair. We don’t live as if life, our true life, is in Christ. We don’t live as if tonight is as the very center of our lives.
Christ’s call gets drowned out by all the other voices in our life, by all the many and important things we have do, all our tasks and obligations, all the ways we fill our time, until we find it hard to hear Christ’s call at all.
Tonight, we turn down the volume on all those other voices. Tonight, we hear more clearly the voice of the one calling us by name. And we commit ourselves to follow him — we join in with Christ’s call: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Tonight we commit ourselves anew to Christ. We renew our desire to follow him where he is leading us, we commend ourselves to him, wherever he is going ahead of us.
But, however hard we pray, however sincerely we commend ourselves to him, we’ll soon fail as we try to follow him. We’ll sin, slip up, and stumble on our way.
Yet tonight means even here Christ does not abandon us. Tonight means he smashes open all of our cycles of despair. Tonight means that even at our lowest, even in the very depths of our despair, Christ meets us. He meets us, and asks us to commit ourselves to him afresh, to be caught up in his risen life, the new life of Easter, and be led to where he wills us to go. With him, one day resurrected to eternal life, and until that day joining in his work, finding our place in his Church, which he is always calling to new life.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is going ahead of us! Alleluia! Today, let us pray for the grace to follow him, to find our place in his Church, and to share even now in the new life of Easter. As we with all the Church and throughout the ages sing with joy our Easter praise. Alleluia! Christ is risen. Alleluia!
The Rev. Dr. Simon Cuff is vicar of St. Peter’s, De Beauvoir Town, London.