Easter Sunday, Year C
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
April 17, 2022
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Alleluia! He is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
What a joyous and beautiful day this is in this, the house of God! Compare the beauty of this Sanctuary this morning to the dark, blackened, starkness of Good Friday. Today the fragrance of the flowers, the beauty of all the colors, the majesty of the music, the warm greetings exchanged among all.
What is the source of all of this joy and happiness? Certainly after this long covid-tide, we are grateful for today’s beauty. The multiple shades of brown that came over the winter, even here in Florida, it is wonderful to see greening of the trees and blooming flowers. Yes a simply beautiful Sunday morning in spring. And here we are.
But, if we are here to celebrate the change of seasons, we ought to be outside enjoying the weather. If we are here because it is good family time, maybe we should be sitting around the breakfast table sharing a cup of coffee or a glass of juice.
So why are we here? Not because the sanctuary is beautiful – though it is. Not because we’re delighted that the pandemic has loosened its hold on us– though we are. Not because we love the music – though of course we do and if it were only that, we could hear it on Pandora. No, my friends, none of those reasons. We come together again because we long to hear good news. We long to hear Good News of some sort when our minds are blasted with news of the atrocities of war in Ukraine, news this week of the subway shooting in New York City.
We long to hear Good News as we continue to hear political discourse that is perhaps at the lowest level this country has ever heard. We long to hear Good news as children are sick, friends are dying, families are divided. We long to hear Good News as hearts are heavy, minds confused, and spirits may be near the breaking point. Please Lord give us some good news.
That my friends is why we are here. We come seeking words of hope. We come seeking understanding of things that are far beyond what our spirits can comprehend. We come, yet again. It is my prayer that you hear Good News – in the words I am speaking, in the scriptures we are reading, the hymns we are singing, the rituals we are engaging, the love and fellowship that we share.
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving
Ours is no caravan of despair
Come, yet again come.
Come with me as we enter a bit more deeply into the Gospel for today. As I studied it this week, I was struck by the wide range of emotions present. The women went to the tomb – hearts heavy, tears flowing, undoubtedly grieving. Then they see that the stone has been rolled away and there is no body there and they were perplexed – the same thing that Mary felt when the angel Gabriel came to her and told her that she would bear a son. Perplexed. Then their confusion changed to terror as two angels spoke to them – why do you seek the living among the dead? And then the Scripture tells us that they went back to the disciples, now 11.
Have you had a time of telling someone some amazing news – you can feel your heart racing, your eyes carry eager expectation of them responding and joining into your excitement. But then they look at you with furrowed brow, shaking their heads, dismissing your news as a simple “idle tale,” barely worth a repost on FaceBook or a tweet on Twitter. They didn’t believe you. “Whatever,” they may have thought.
But things turned when Peter, Peter who rebuked Jesus’ message at many a turn, Peter who boasted of his faithfulness, Peter who fell asleep in the Garden, Peter who raised the sword against those who would take Jesus away, Peter who denied his Lord and friend not once but three times, Peter who we can only imagine was filled with an amazing mix of emotions and thoughts and questions and wonderings and doubts, this Peter thought a bit and he ran to the tomb, stooped to look in, saw the empty grave clothes and went back home marveling at what he saw.
Can we give voice to our own questions and thoughts and even our doubts? – What. Is. Going On. Here?
To understand what is going on in the Resurrection, we need to go back – back to when God created all that is. God gathered up a bunch of dirt – of dust, as we said at Ash Wednesday – and breathed into this clump of clay the breath of life and in God’s image we too began to live in relationship with each other – who also were created in the image of God. And that was the beginning of God coming to us again and again – rescuing us from our Egypt, guiding us through our wilderness, restoring us to our home, liberating us from our oppressors. And time and again we resisted God’s love. But that did not stop God’s persistent efforts to restore us to wholesome relationship with God and each other. And in that effort, Jesus was sent to bring to us again the Kingdom of Heaven, to embody how it is that God’s way is so very different from our way. Can you see the trajectory of God bringing about God’s kingdom in God’s own creation??!!
Can you see the movement of God in the Church for the sake of the world? Today three beloved ones will be welcomed into this community of faith and one wee one will be washed and claimed and named through the Sacrament of Baptism. My former Pastor and now colleague Jim Honig says this:
So, the connection of Christ’s resurrection to our own baptism is not that we have now been saved, it’s that we have now been joined to a body through whom God is working to bring redemption, healing, and reconciliation to all creation.
This is not membership. It is discipleship. Can you see this my friends – we each individually and together as the community of faith are part of the trajectory of what God is doing in the world. Right now. Today. The Kingdom comes.
And we, warts and questions and doubts and all, are called to be a part of this resurrection story. And we don’t do this alone – we do this together. Washed in the waters of baptism, nourished at the Table, arms linked together in warm embrace. We have within our reach all that is needed. Because ...
He is Risen!
He is risen indeed!