We Believe in Grace, Not Karma

Grace-Not-KarmaHomily at St Philip Evans on Easter Sunday 2015

The Seven Word Sermon: What goes around can stop at Jesus.

Christ has died!

Christ is Risen!

Christ will come again!

Today is a great day. Today we celebrate our security. The world around us is full of dangers. Planes crash. Terrorists cause havoc. No-one can predict the shape of next month’s Government. But today we have good news that no traitor, politician or terrorist can take away from us. Jesus is not dead! He now enjoys a life that will never end, in heaven, and we have a place there!

But isn’t this too good to be true? Isn’t it the case that what goes around, comes around?

We human beings have a strong sense of “just deserts”. When someone hurts us, our natural instinct is “Someone must pay for this!” When we ourselves are the culprits, we have a guilty sense that we need to do something to make amends. On the other hand, when someone does a good deed for us, we might just be inspired to pay it forward – at some coffee shops there is now a tradition of buying a “suspended coffee” to be claimed by the next customer, who in turn will pay for another.

Today, we celebrate something altogether greater, an act of generosity which we can never repay.

Our Lord Jesus died, suspended upon a Cross. He resisted the temptation to come down in an act of Divine Power, choosing instead to endure the death penalty. Then, things got interesting. An empty tomb. A mysterious stranger with a familiar bearing. An abrupt appearance through a locked door. Doubt no longer, but believe!

As Christians, we believe in grace, not karma. Yes, our instincts are right when they tell us we deserve some kind of payback for what we have done wrong. But Jesus has paid for it. This is what we are celebrating today! Jesus, with his own body, has paid the ultimate price.

If our innermost being is crying out “Someone must pay for this,” Jesus looks into the depths of our pain and says, “I have. Be at peace.” His sacrifice has paid not only for the sins of our enemies, but our own sins too. It is a free gift, offered out of love, and unlike the suspended coffee, one that we can never repay.

During the past six weeks of Lent, we have struggled to do that which is within our power, to live better lives, to overcome our worst habits, to do good to others. In short, we did what we could to become better people. But today, we celebrate that Jesus did what we cannot. We cannot earn heaven.

We have a special name for the kind of free gift which God offers to us. We call it grace.

God thinks we are worth dying for. That’s grace!

In a few moments, when we renew our baptismal commitment, I will ask: “Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins?”

If you do, then you believe in grace, not karma. You believe that what goes round doesn’t need to come round. You believe that Jesus has willingly accepted the consequence of every wrongful deed you have ever done.

The best gifts are the ones given to us unexpectedly – a loving hand on our shoulder, a handmade gift, a surprise party. Most unexpectedly, Jesus gave his life for us. We can never repay this gift, but we can respond to it – by celebrating Easter with all our heart, mind and strength.

We believe in grace, not karma.

Let us make this a day of rejoicing!

Christ has died!

Christ is Risen!

Christ will come again!

Photo credits – the thinking person design was from Pixabay, the Risen Christ from Flickr user WaitingForTheWord.