1. An empty Cross and an empty tomb await us this night. Five thousand years of history at last come to fulfilment in the promise of God to share with us God’s own life beyond death.
2. A young man from a wealthy family was about to graduate from high school. It was the custom in that wealthy neighbourhood for the parents to give the graduate a motor car.
3. "Bill’ and his father had spent months looking at cars, and the week before graduation, they found the perfect car. On the eve of his graduation, his father handed him a gift wrapped Bible.
4. Bill was so angry that he threw the Bible down and stormed out of the house. He and his father never saw each other again. It was the news of his father’s death that brought Bill home again.
5. As he sat one night going through his father’s possessions that he was to inherit, he come across the Bible his father had given him.
6. He brushed away the dust and opened it to find a cashier’s check, dated the day of his graduation - in the exact amount of the car they had chosen together.
7. How many people in this world have done the same thing to God? Literally tossed aside a wonderful promise, because they didn’t understand it, or they didn’t believe that it was possible.
8. Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it; now we have the empty tomb and the promise fulfilled.
9. In todays’ world, we are taught that; “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” So many of us have been taken in by “empty promises,” that we are wary of anything or anyone that tells us we can have something for nothing. No, the world simply doesn’t work that way!
10. This evening we have listened to the history of God’s plan for God’s creation. The plan which is finally fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus in his glorified body and the final enemy, which is death itself has been defeated. God’s promise is real! God never made a promise that was not fulfilled.
11. Lord, as we look around the world today we see what Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved saw as they entered his tomb. Cloths are lying on the ground that we can recognise for what they are; attitudes of passivity that look like fine linen but in fact kept your chosen ones in the tomb.
12. God has once more fulfilled what you taught us in all the scriptures and we had not really believed until this moment: that you will always raise up your chosen ones when the world imprisons them in a tomb.
13. Lord, we pray today for those who are baptised this night; Today they have enthusiasm, for them you are alive and present; but there will certainly come a time when they will experience you absent, when prayer will be like Mary of Magdala going in the gloom of early morning to visit the tomb of Jesus.
14. They will be like people who mourn for a spouse or a child without even having the comfort of the dead body to look at.
15. This is the way they will have to pass because until they have had experiences like this they will not really believe the teaching of the scriptures that your grace cannot be overpowered by evil and that your presence within us must always, like Jesus, rise again from the tomb.
16. This is our faith, our hope and our joy; the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting shared with God; and one day for each of us with our deceased loved ones.