Easter message by Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Revd. James R. Wong Yin Song-‘Ignite the fire of love, God’s love’


05-April-2012

Alleluia! My brothers and sisters, today is Easter Sunday and, as Christians, we have gathered to celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour and Lord. But even as we rejoice in His resurrection, our hearts are heavy knowing that much is wrong in our world and in our nation.

Unrelenting hatred seems to rule supreme in the hearts, the lives of so many and the fruits of terror are all too evident.

During the Lenten season, I shared with you in my pastoral letter what we are all called, by God, to live in our everyday lives: “Ignite the fire of love, God’s love”. As we have reached Easter, I hope and pray that we have all been transformed by His love and the love we have for one another.

As we celebrate Easter, my dear fellow pilgrims, I invite you to go back to the Word of God. Let us read 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. “Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you – unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me.” (NRSV)

With that introduction, Paul goes on to present a tremendous testimony of the resurrection of Jesus. Then he turns his attention to us, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” [15:51-52 NRSV].

With those words ringing in our ears, let us consider some of the changes, some of the transformations that the resurrection of Jesus has already made.

I. THE TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE CROSS & THE TOMB To illustrate the transformations that His resurrection has already made, think about the cross and the tomb.
A. The cross

Before His resurrection, the cross was only known as an instrument of horrible death, rough wood soaked with human blood. So terrible was this form of execution that the Roman Empire prohibited the crucifixion of Roman citizens. Crucifixion was only for the worst of slaves and enemies of the empire.
But today, because of His resurrection, all around the world the cross is seen as a symbol of hope and a reminder of God’s love for us. Hence, the reason we wear a replica of the cross as a piece of jewellery, a thing of beauty.

B. The tomb
And what about His tomb? Before the resurrection, for most of the world, the grave was looked upon as the final chapter, the closing of a great door, the end of everything. But because of His resurrection, we can rejoice today that beyond death is where life really begins and it will never end. That makes you wonder, why we spend so much time worrying and being troubled about material things?

Someone once said: "I spent most of my life searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Then I finally found it at the foot of the cross."

During our lives my brothers and sisters, we work and struggle to accumulate things that we think are important. But when we are dealing with death and what happens after death, then all these things seem so futile, so insignificant. What difference does it really make what kind of car we drive? Or what kind of house we live in? Or what clothes we wear? If we are talking about eternity, then what difference do material things really make?

On one side of the resurrection, everything we see is temporary. Only the things we cannot see are eternal. What a difference the resurrection makes!

II. THE TRANSFORMATION OF TIME Then there is the transformation of time. Before the resurrection, time was a limited concept. The Bible talks about the breath of life that we have in our nostrils and then it is gone. And there is no promise that when we exhale that we will inhale again. Life is brief indeed.
One morning as I was shaving, I looked in the mirror and think, "My goodness, I look old, but surely with a good night’s sleep tonight, maybe I will look better tomorrow." Then I hear a still, small voice saying, "Do not count on it. This is your best look."

That is rather discouraging!! You see, time is slipping by. It is going so fast that it is hard to hold on to anything. On one side of the resurrection, time is brief.

But on the other side there is Jesus and eternity, and that changes the whole purpose, meaning and scope of our life.
III. THE TRANSFORMATION OF LIFE Then there is the transformation of life, itself. Have you been listening to the messages of the world lately? Have you been hearing the voices of hopelessness and despair that seem to be so pervasive here and abroad?
Suddenly we have become so painfully and personally aware of the presence of terrorism on our planet. The men and women of the armed forces are spread across the globe, engaged in what will undoubtedly be prolonged battles against the forces of hatred and evil.

There are diseases for which we have no cures. There are problems in our homes. Children are being abused. More and more people are sleeping on the streets. If you watch and listen for a long time, you can be filled with despair. And if the only hope that we have is the one that this world offers, then we have no hope because the message of this world is despair.
In contrast, Jesus said: "I have come to bring you life, and that more abundantly, to show you how to live, to bring you hope, joy, peace and love, to give to you a reason for living."

Even if life is collapsing with pain, even if there is loneliness and sorrow, you will be able to go on, you will find the strength that comes through Jesus and the power of His resurrection.

IV. THE TRANSFORMATION OF DEATH Finally, there is the transformation of death itself. Before the resurrection, death was the end. Before the resurrection, death was the final curtain call. Before the resurrection, all we could do is to mourn as those who have no hope.

But after the resurrection, when someone dies, we mourn because we have lost a loved one. But we mourn as people who have great hope because Jesus Christ is alive, and the promise of Scripture is that if He is alive, then we, too, can live forever. Our sins are forgiven by His shed blood and we have the promise of everlasting life. It changes the whole concept of death itself.

Paul wrote: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55 NRSV) Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord. The resurrection makes the difference, Alleluia.

My dear beloved in the resurrected Christ, before the resurrection, the things which seemed so important are now pretty insignificant. Before, time was so limited, we did not have time. But now we are all living in eternity in Christ Jesus.

Before, life was filled with despair, but now it has purpose, direction and meaning. Before, death was the end, but now it is the beginning. Yes, my fellow pilgrims, all things are possible. Amen. Amen. Alleluia. Happy and blessed Easter!
Together for His glory

The Rt Rev. James R. Wong Yin Song
Your fellow pilgrim and bishop

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