God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38
 
The Gospels record many stories of Jesus giving new life to persons who found themselves in death situations. Persons whose bodies were diseased, disabled people, tormented individuals and social outcasts, found in Jesus a man who was able to turn their darkness into light and their sorrows into joy. The Gospel is a story of life; it makes the point that where ever Christ is present one can experience new life.
 
The Easter story reminds us of God’s power which is able to bring life out of death like circumstances.  This morning I used death in a comprehensive way to describe those situations that rob us of life; experiences that are characterised by grief, pain, unhappiness and a sense of loss. In this regard there are many forms of death; the death of a loved one; the death of a relationship; the death of a marriage; the loss of one’s employment can be a form of death; disappointments can have death like feelings for the injured party; these are just a few of the situations that create death like experiences for us.
 
The Resurrection speaks about God’s victory over death and the forces of evil. We share in Christ’s victory over death and the many forms of evil we experience in our lives. The resurrection tells us that we must not remain in a state of death. Life goes on and we have the capacity to triumph over the various forms of death we encounter in our lives, but we cannot do it on our own strength. With the grace of God and in the power of the resurrection we can defeat the various forms of death that are present in the world.

The Resurrection is a story of new life, a new beginning. It is a message of joy to those who believe in the risen Christ. It echoes the words of the Psalmist: “heaviness may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.” As such, the empty tomb is a call to be courageous, to be brave, to have patience, to persevere and not to surrender to the forces of evil and adversity.

We must not make ourselves prisoners of death like situations. We must avoid the temptation to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the adversities which afflict us from time to time. With God’s help we can overcome adversity and turn it into an opportunity for growth and development.  Once we are alive we shall have experiences that seem like death. We cannot avoid all of them but in many instances we can lessen their potential by being wise in the choices we make.

Celebrating Christ’s resurrection as we do this day, invites us to be optimists and not pessimists. We are always to look on the bright side of life with the confidence that all shall be well. Every death like condition offers an opportunity for a new beginning, new life. We do not have to remain in a state of death; we can rise from every adversity and enjoy a new life. This is a day to celebrate new life and to become new persons. Christianity is all about life and living, it requires us to have a positive outlook about life and to be people of confidence whose hope is in the Risen and Ascended Christ.

Easter demonstrates how we can turn misfortune in opportunity. A bad experience need not become a crisis. It can be used as an opportunity for growth and development. It can be a teaching experience which helps us to reassess our lives and chart a new course. We must never forget that good can come out of evil. We tend to forget God can use every bad experience for good. This we see in the lives of Joseph, David, Job and Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that every crucifixion can be followed by a resurrection. Every crucifixion can be followed by a resurrection. Life does not come to a standstill because of our crucifixions. Life continues and we have to find our place in life so as to live. If we allow our crucifixions to have the last word we will always live in a state of personal death and destruction. Crucifixions will come but they can be followed by resurrection. “Heaviness may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

We are presented with two choices life and death. It is within us to choose to live or we can choose to die. Choose life and not death.

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