Secondary Easter Service
On Wednesday, our school community came together for the Secondary Easter Service led by Chaplain Justine. We celebrated Holy Week through prayer, music and story. The Paschal candle was lit and blessed, representing the light of Christ coming into the world.
Chaplain Justine would like to share her sermon with our school community:
Good morning and welcome to our Easter service.
A special welcome to the family and friends of John Wollaston school community who have joined us today.
When we come together once a year at an Easter service like this one, we tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in rather a piecemeal fashion. It’s such a big story and we have such limited time, that we only get to hear the abbreviated version.
It’s a bit like flicking through someone’s Instagram highlights or their Snapchat memories for the week:
Jesus is taken down from the cross before the Sabbath and Joseph of Arimathea claims his body. He is buried in a tomb with a large boulder pushed over the entrance and Roman soldiers are posted on guard.
Here ends the historical Jesus of Nazareth.
If this was the end of the story, as some people claim - simply an account of the execution of a radical Rabbi in first-century Judea - we could indeed tell the facts in half a dozen Instagram messages or snapchat images, and it would done. But the very fact that we are still telling this story, over two thousand years later and in every country on Earth, suggests that there is more to it.
If the Easter story ends on Good Friday with the death and burial of Jesus, then this is a story of the triumph evil. Jesus of Nazareth preached God’s love for the world. He healed the sick, defended the poor, included outcastes, forgave sinners and welcomed strangers. And He encouraged his followers to do the same. Jesus also challenged the powerful, the privileged and the entitled. In the name of God, he demanded justice for the powerless and compassion for the weak. He claimed he came from God and that God, his father, would vindicate him in the end. He made the religious and military authorities nervous, and so they killed him. But his death was not the end. What happens next is a mystery. Christians believe God enters the story at this point.
Something happened on that Sunday morning that turned the story upside down and it began with the women at the empty tomb – they were afraid, they were uncertain (they had come to clean a corpse, not witness a resurrection) and they feared they would not be believed – but still they shared the news of the risen Christ. In the days and weeks that followed, the disciples who had fled in terror came together again. Each of them personally encountered Jesus and became convinced that he had overcome death.
We don’t know what the resurrection was exactly, but we do know the followers of Jesus were changed by it. Men who had feared for their lives became willing to die for the truth. Their courage was renewed, their faith in God was restored and their sins (including their abandonment, denial and doubt of Jesus) were all forgiven. The disciples didn’t do anything to deserve this, but through faith in Jesus they received God’s grace and they were empowered to take the good news to the whole world.
So, what does Easter mean for us today? I think the Easter story has a message of hope for all people. And that message is that goodness and truth, cannot be extinguished by injustice and violence. Goodness is stronger than evil. In the Bible it says, ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’ That’s why we light the paschal candle each year.
Easter invites us to enter into the mystery of the resurrection and gives us the opportunity to be changed by it. It is a time for each of us to reflect on what we believe and how we live. As an Anglican community, here at John Wollaston school at Easter we renew our commitment to following Christ’s example; to be inclusive, to pursue social justice and support people in need; to be fair, forgiving and compassionate to all.
In that sense, we are an Easter people, and we celebrate together the kingdom to come and the offer of new life through Jesus Christ.