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Prayer sustains our human relationship with God and may involve words (formal or informal) or be silent. Prayer can involve adoration (‘I love you’), confession (‘sorry’), thanksgiving and supplication (‘please’).

Home Pobl Dewi The empty tomb

The empty tomb

Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus is the highlight of the Christian calendar. There is no more important event in history and it is the crucial turning point upon which all Christianity rests, as Revd Paul Pritchard reminds us all

In those ancient times, thousands upon thousands of people were crucified, which was considered to be the most shameful and painful way to die. Of the thousands of victims of this brutal execution, there is only one who rose again.

One of my favourite passages of scripture is the fifteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. I was recently requested to perform a graveside funeral service, with the request that no eulogy be given. I am a member of the Prayerbook Society and often use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in my personal devotions. The Prayerbook order for The Burial of the Dead seemed appropriate for the request, as the service consists almost entirely of scripture and prayers proclaiming the mercy of God and the hope of joyful resurrection to everlasting life.

The order of the service draws deeply on this chapter of Paul’s letter, beginning “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept” and he continues to encourage us with the promised destruction of death. He then addresses the scepticism which pollutes good doctrine. Being a sceptic is no virtue, we gain nothing by holding onto doubts we have.

It is natural enough to doubt, and I had many doubts and was sceptical about spiritual things early in my faith. I was a firm materialist, an undergraduate studying Applied Biology - I mocked anything concerned with the supernatural and dismissed all religion, faith, and spirituality. This all changed after attending a Gospel Concert and an invitation to pray and know Christ. I relented simply to stop the man behind me talking to me. It was all very uncomfortable.

I came to faith initially because I didn’t want my wife to go alone. We had met the summer before at a party, fallen head-over-heels in love and married four weeks later. She had heard this message before and rejected it; but now she wanted to follow Jesus. I was still a sceptic, but one evening after a difficult argument, I stormed over to the kitchen and asked God to help us. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the presence of God, as a weight lifted off me and I fell onto the floor in tears. I knew I was forgiven, I was loved, and Jesus lived in me. All my doubts were gone.

In the epistle, Paul explains that the first man, Adam, was made from dust and earth, but the second man is from heaven, and “just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven”. He then explains “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

I studied this one morning preparing for a funeral service, as the family had requested the reading from this chapter, verses 50-58. It struck me that in the Greek, that there is an exchange of the abstract for the concrete, the perishable for the concrete.

In a flash, an indivisible instance of time, with a blast of a trumpet, the perishable becomes imperishable. The mortal becomes immortal. All this life is abstract, like a mist, here today and gone tomorrow. The risen life of Jesus is concrete, solid, real. The risen Jesus was so real and immortal, he could walk through solid stone walls to meet the disciples locked in the upper room. His resurrected life was more concrete and solid than the walls, which were like mist in comparison. The stone was not rolled away for his benefit, but for his followers to see the empty tomb and believe.