21. April 2019

Unfinished Business

Service Type:

‘…He is going before you…’ (Matthew 28,7).

‘To boldly go where no one has gone before’ – Probably the most famous split infinitive in literary history – the words that usher in every episode of ‘Star Trek’. One of the most widely quoted and misquoted descriptions of the resurrection of Jesus is that attributed to the late David Jenkins, former Bishop of Durham, who in 1984 was reported as saying the resurrection was ‘not just a conjuring trick with bones.’ And he was right. Today is not the annual celebration of the great magician in the sky. Today is the day when we are reminded that there is more to life than just this physical life; today is the day when we are reminded that our mortality is not an end in itself; today is the day when we are reminded that death is not all powerful but that there is that which is even more powerful than death – as the hymn writer has it – ‘make us more than conquerors through Thy deathless love.’ Today is the day when we are reminded that at the heart of the Christian Gospel is the challenge of faith; that believing the God raised Jesus from the dead, we can, ought, must go on from here. And Jesus goes before us…

  1. To Galilee…The place from where they had come; home. We are to go home from here, back from where we have come. But now to realise that even in the midst of ordinary life; the daily routine; the warp and weft of life; that Jesus, the risen Christ is there waiting to greet us. And because He is there, home, what we call home, becomes something of a ‘home from home’ because now we have to acknowledge that ‘this world is not our home’, we are just passing through. That which would otherwise anchor us down to a particular place at a particular time can no longer hold us. As Jesus – the supposed gardener said to Mary, ‘’don’t hold on to me…I must go…”
  2. Into Tomorrow…The future will always, thankfully, be hidden from us. We can do our best to prepare for it; we can try our best to predict how it might unfold. But the future will always be full of surprises and not all of them pleasant. Each of us has to face our own future; confronting it, embracing it in equal measure. We cannot run away from it. It emerges out of the mists of time and envelopes us in the present moment. And so, it is with the risen Christ. He comes to us, out of the mystery that is the future, and beckons to us that we might walk with Him and He with us into whatever the futures contains…Sometimes we will not even realise He is there, or even recognise Him for who He is…we will all walk the road to Emmaus, but sooner or later He will make Himself known…
  3. Into Eternity…Today we dare to claim that as a consequence of Jesus having been raised from the dead, the whole of creation has to viewed from a totally different perspective; to be understood in a totally different way; to be regarded from a wholly different point of view. In the midst of time and space, more than that, at the heart of time space is to be found the eternity of God – made manifest in the man Jesus – whom God raised from the dead. In the light of which we are dared to imagine that the whole creation will be transformed by God’s active presence: God’s power-filled love, God’s love-filled power. As such, the perishable will give way to the imperishable, the mortal will be clothed with immortality, and God’s free gift – eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord – is offered to each and all alike. And ugliness shall yield to beauty… and prose shall yield to poetry…for ‘Death shall have no dominion…


1. And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
2. And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
3. And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.