We have just listened to two accounts of the Easter morning. Both of these stories have something in common, they are all attempts to capture in narrative form, the deep, life changing truths of Gods act, that simply cannot be described in ordinary prose.
At the heart of these stories and images, is the conviction that God did something radically and wonderfully new after Jesus crucifixion.
Gods response to the evil and suffering of the cross was not to come charging in to the rescue, but to bring new life out of death.
God didnt prevent Good Friday. God transformed it into Easter Day.
This is a much more powerful thing, because it tells us that the last enemy, death; the thing which brings fear into our hearts even when we have mastered all else, is not victorious.
As the Hymn writer puts it
"Death where is your sting?" "grave where is your victory".
We, who live in a world full of Good Fridays, can take enormous hope in this.
We know something of the pain of Good Friday.
We see it in the events of Holocaust. Bosnia, Ethiopia, Timor, September the 11th and many other events in the world today.
And also in the pain of ruined lives, through sickness or neglect or wonton carelessness on our roads when it touches us personally.
Sometimes this pain and the suffering seem endless.
And we want them to end.
But Easter day tells us that the God who can transform even death,
Is powerful indeed.
And the promise is to those who place their trust in this God is, they too will be raised to newness of life.
The proof of the resurrection for those on that Easter day was not the empty tomb, rather it was a conviction, within them, that Jesus was with them, in a new way; a way they could not explain but a way which transformed them, from frightened men and women, into people who were willing even to face death rather than give up their belief.
This is how it has been throughout the centuries since that Easter day.
It is that inner conviction, that the life that Jesus lived was not snuffed out, but transformed, that is the proof of the resurrection.
The thing that attracted me to belief in Jesus was not so much a careful study of the scripture, rather it was the effect of Jesus upon the lives of ordinary men and women, who said they believed in him.
It has been the power of God at work in the lives of men and women and children throughout the centuries that has been and ever will be, the only proof of Gods power to bring life out of death.
The promise of Easter is, just as God would not allow death to be the end of Jesus, so God will not allow pain and suffering to be the end of us either.
Easter reminds us that not even death can put us beyond the reach of Gods love.
God will not let us be destroyed.
In my worst moments
I find this difficult to believe, and fear takes over. When I am faced with something which seems to want to destroy me, Fear whisper "look after yourself" and if I listen, and to my shame I do more often than I like to admit, then I turn from Gods loving ways and often I hurt others, through self centred actions.
But in my better moments
I hear Jesus voice which says.
"For even though you loose your life,
you will not be destroyed,
if you follow my way."
And I discover again that there is life where I thought there was death and destruction.
And once again I discover that Jesus way is the best, not only for me, but for all people because it brings blessings to us all.
Easter promises us that, we can trust God to bring new life out of death, not only for Jesus, but for us and in the end for all people.
Praise be to God Amen.