11 April 2009

Middlesbrough Cathedral

We have travelled a long way this evening. We have come from the first day of creation up to this present moment via the Red Sea and the Exodus, through the promises of the prophets of a blessed future all guaranteed by the creative and certain Word of God which always achieves God’s purpose. We have moved from the moment that God looked at his creation and pronounced it very good, through the recognition in history of our own sinful weakness, slowly understanding in a shadowy way that God would one day make all things right despite our hardness of heart.

This week we have journeyed with Jesus, the Son that God did not spare but whom he gave up for us all. We have followed him as he took upon himself the sinful burden of human nature, even the consequences of our sin to death itself. We witnessed that death and now we also witness his rising from the dead and begin to experience in a mystical but real way that new life of the resurrection through Baptism and the renewal of the graces of that sacrament,

It has been a long journey and we are not at the end of it yet. It has been a long journey through Lent for us all, but especially, I suspect for Hannah, Michael and Collette (to be baptised and confirmed). Their journey is not over yet either. In fact, like us all, their real journey is just beginning.

Listening to the stories from the Scriptures, the stories of God’s People, of our people, we cannot help but reflect on God’s faithfulness despite our weakness and sinfulness. We cannot help but have hope, hope and confidence for the future because we know that our God, faithful to his covenant, has never ceased to walk with us. Therefore we can reasonably expect that he will continue to walk with us in the future. Thus we are a people of hope, not blind optimism, but hope based on our knowledge and experience of the way God has loved and cared for us in the past, right up to the this moment.

So we continue our journey, through this night, through this celebration, through each day of our lives to come; and we journey in peace, in hope, and in joy. And we can cry out with the words that we heard from St Paul in the Letter to the Romans a few moments ago: When we were baptised in Christ Jesus, we were baptised in his death so that as Christ was raised we too might live a new life. Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. …Consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus. Alleluia! Amen!