If 6am on Easter Sunday was a bit early for you, here's Emma's talk from the Sunrise service:

What are you like with surprises? Does the idea of a surprise party fill you with joy or horror? Do you relish the adrenaline of the unexpected or prefer to know exactly what is round the corner? I am always impressed with Jesus’ restraint when he first encounters the women who have been told he has risen from the dead, because if I were him, I wouldn’t have gone with ‘greetings’ I’d have gone ‘surprise!’ Because it was a surprise, even though perhaps it shouldn’t have been, even though he had told his followers he would rise from the dead, when they got to that moment where a distant and forlorn hope became reality they were surprised.

The women in our story are described as experiencing two emotions simultaneously, fear and joy, and it made me wonder what were they afraid of? Were they afraid that the angel’s news wasn’t true, or that it was? That it was all over, or that perhaps it was just beginning? This is pretty life-changing stuff, resurrection. It may have been Jesus who actually came back to life from death, but all of his followers were now faced with a choice – to let everything that had come before die, or to allow Jesus’ resurrection to give them a new life too.

You don’t just meet the resurrected Jesus and go back to how things were before. If Jesus rocked up here, at this very pier this morning, saying ‘Surprise!’ we’re unlikely to be thinking ‘well it’s lovely to see you Jesus but there’s a roast lamb in the oven at the moment so I’d better be going.’ The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It takes all those nice plans you might have and turns them on their head. If the disciples had dared to allow their minds to wander already, pondering ‘where did I leave my fishing nets?’ they were about to be brought back with a jolt when the women reach them with the news that it isn’t all over…it’s only just beginning.

So, what is beginning for us today? We are an Easter people, we live with knowledge and understanding that the disciples didn’t have, that Good Friday isn’t the end of the story…Sunday is coming. But if we lose the element of surprise, is there also a danger we lose something else? For the disciples, the resurrection changed everything. They had committed to Jesus for three years but what is three years amidst a whole lifetime? But now…now Jesus is alive, that moment of surprise, fear, and joy, is the impetus for the beginnings of the church. It is the start of the rest of their lives, lives which will be dedicated to spreading the Good News of Jesus and his saving death and resurrection. Lives spent travelling and sharing, writing down exactly who Jesus is, what he did, and what he has done.

And so, to us. Today, Easter Sunday, is not unexpected but could it still be life-changing? In what ways are we going to allow Jesus’ resurrection to change the direction of our lives?

Let’s pray: Loving Lord, we thank you for the resurrection of Jesus, that his death was not the end of the story but the act that brought new life and hope to each of us as we live in the joy of knowing our sins are forgiven and that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God. God, would you renew in us today your call to follow, your invitation to join in the wondrous work of telling people your good news, and fill us with the delight of surprise as we consider and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this Easter Sunday. Amen

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