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Reform Magazine | April 15, 2021

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Life vs death

Life vs death

Experience tells us that death overwhelms life in the end. Easter tells us something different, says Chris Baillie

During this coronavirus pandemic, people around the world have felt overwhelmed. It is in the nature of death to overwhelm, and it is in the nature of life to resist that. And it is our experience that, in the end, death overwhelms life. But Easter gives us an alternative point of view.

In Luke’s account, two Marys, Joanna and some other women go to the tomb of Jesus to embalm his body. They have had to wait a day, for ritual reasons. They are not ready at all for what they find when they get to the grave, because they are overwhelmed, by grief and by circumstances, having watched Jesus die by crucifixion. What they find completely contradicts human experience. They don’t know, mentally and emotionally, how to move on from their overwhelming sense of loss, brokenness and disillusionment to the discovery of something amazing and life-changing.

As the women are outside the tomb, wondering what to make of the fact that Jesus is not there, two figures appear beside them. I’m not sure how to visualise them, but I think the message of their presence is clear enough: it takes more than human conviction to persuade us that life can overwhelm death. It has to come from outside nature. It has to come from God. Another person’s message won’t cut it…

Chris Baillie is Minister of Cannington and Westfield United Reformed Church. This article is an edited version of a sermon delivered online at Easter 2020.

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This is an extract from an article published in the April 2021 edition of Reform

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