Easter Day: My Crusty Shoes

31 Mar, 2024

By the Rev’d Hilary Willett

Season: Easter Sunday

Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9 | Acts 10:34-43 | John 20:1-18

Today is Easter Sunday! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Now I know that, like many of you, you will have seen lots of lots changes in the last few days. In the shops, on television, on the streets. Bunnies in shops. Hot-cross buns. Chocolate eggs.

Easter is a big time of year for pictures. We are surrounded by image after image of what Easter means, both to wider society and to the Christian faith. In here too, we have images and symbols, reminding us of the resurrection.

Besides the cross, we also have the Eucharist table, a place where we symbolically re-enact the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. When we talk about the body of Christ, what do we use as a symbol? Bread. And the blood of Christ refers to what? Wine and water. Why is the water significant? When Jesus died, his side was pierced by a spear, and water flowed out. The church has interpreted this to mean that in death, life also flowed from Christ.

Some of you may have noticed that all the people in the sanctuary, behind the railing, are wearing white. What does this mean? It symbolises our new life in Christ through baptism. Similarly, all the priests up here are wearing white and gold around their necks to symbolise today’s new life and Christ’s victory.

We are surrounded by symbols at Easter time. Everywhere. And these symbols are important. They help to ground us in the story of Christ. The good news is that Jesus came to save the world from death and despair. And we have so many Christians throughout history trying to work out just how Jesus did it. Some have said that Jesus was a sacrifice. Others have said Jesus took on God’s anger at sin (not the most convincing one, if I’m honest). A few have said Jesus was an example of who we are supposed to be in the world: a person ready to die for their friends.

But there’s one other one, and to talk about it, I’d like to introduce another symbol that we don’t see in shopping malls or up here (pull out the work shoes).

These, are my work shoes. They have paint and dirt on them. I worked at Animates in these shoes. I recently walked around Japan in these shoes. I painted my fence in these shoes. They are old, a little bit crusty, and if I’m being honest, I may need a new pair soon. Don’t come too close. You will smell them.

Does anyone know why I have pulled out some old shoes? Care to take a guess?

One of my favourite descriptions of what Christ did when he died was that he walked in our shoes. He walked in our shoes, even to death. God wanted us to know that God loves us and wanted us to feel understood. When we go through hard things, God wants us to know that God understands. When our lives are hard and painful, when we feel scared and alone, when it feels like no one knows or cares about what we are going through, God understands.s God didn’t hang out with the rich and famous. God hung out with the forgotten, the broken, the sick, the excluded. God didn’t die an easy death. Jesus died feeling abandoned and shattered by hate and violence.

But. This is not where the story ends. Jesus’ story doesn’t end in death. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus walked in our shoes to the cross, the bitter extent of human pain, and then redeemed it. When Jesus rose from death, he said very loudly across all the world, across time and space. Death is not the end. In many ways, it is not accurate to say Jesus “came back to life.” Rather, Jesus walked through human death, past it, into life. He broke death, making it possible for us to walk with Jesus into life.

(Hold up shoes) He wore my shoes, our shoes, so that we could eventually wear his, knowing, in our deepest hearts, that Jesus understands us and loves us. Why else would God walk in our shoes? Why else, while walking in our shoes, would he break the things that bring us pain and death? Because God loves us!

God gets it! God gets why this life is hard and why we struggle. But this is not the end. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus loves us. We, too, will rise. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

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