Church still has a unique selling point: the transformation of people’s lives
“In his Easter sermon preached in Arbroath today the Rt Rev Dr Nigel Peyton spoke about power of Jesus’ Resurrection to transform people’s lives and said:
“What do you say to the families of the German airliner which crashed recently in the French Alps, to the families of those holiday travellers on board, to the families of the schoolchildren, to those emergency workers who battled the elements to retrieve bodies and wreckage? What do you say to the family of the Co-Pilot, who, it disturbingly turned out, deliberately flew the aeroplane to its destruction?
“It sometimes takes a shocking moment, a shipwreck in our lives, to shake us out of our secure categories to realise that things are not as we assumed. The Easter Story tells of such a catastrophe with enduring consequences. The unfolding story had everything: heroism and human failings, courage and cowardice, horror and hubris. Proud leaders anticipated triumphant headlines. But the unthinkable happened: Jesus was killed. The catastrophe of Calvary.
“The surprising last word of Mark’s gospel account of Easter morning is ‘afraid.’ Stark and thin, even good news can leave us fearful. Despite reassurances, questions remain. The resurrection and its meaning are difficult for Jesus’ friends to grasp. But what were they looking for, hoping to find?
“The disciples cannot recognise Jesus because they misunderstood what it meant for him to be the Messiah. They still thought of him as a warrior who would liberate Israel from the Romans. They had half-grasped that he was the chosen one of God but could not reconcile that with an ignominious death upon the cross. People are not just recognising Jesus as the man they knew was killed. They are recognising him as the man they sort of knew and thought they knew, but didn’t really know until now.
“The resurrection does not just happen. Rather it is ‘revealed.’ It uncovers a new way of seeing the world in which death and hatred are defeated. It shows up all the ways in which we collude in seeking victims and loading on them our fears and hatreds. It invites us to cleanse our eyes of rivalry and complacency, so that we may recognise not only Jesus but each other and ourselves for the first time.
“And yet faith won’t go away….it seems that the hunger for personal spirituality and the public expression of religious instincts have not quite deserted society. In the 21st century, Britain has blossomed into ‘a Christendom of faiths’ in which Christianity enriches public affairs – as well as providing solace and meaning to its followers and fresh insights into the mysteries of the human condition. Maybe the Church still has a unique selling point: the transformation of people’s lives.”