Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Oh, my siblings in Christ, it has been a long, unexpected, sometimes brutal, often beautiful Lent and in the midst of these 40 days, we have been exploring the theme Spiritual Reboot looking at all of the ways that our spiritual lives mirror our physical ones… and even though we are hardwired to love God we still find ourselves more often than not out of shape in our relationships with God, each other and God’s world. And this season, like nearly no other one in history and at least in living memory, has given to us unasked and unsought an opportunity to check in with our faith while tending to the needs and lives of those we love or care for. And we have done so all the while at the same time walking with Jesus towards the cross of his death as he made change permanently once and for all our nails in his body were the nails of God’s choosing sides against the forces of glory and ego and status won at the expense of our neighbors and for the poor, the least, the excluded, the broken.
And surprise, surprise. It turns out that Jesus was truly saving the best for last, for through the failure of his body on the cross of his crucifixion comes the empty tomb of Easter. A surprise ending, a change-up to end all change-ups! It seems that God, in Jesus Christ, has taken the ultimate failure… namely Christ’s death on the cross at the hands of God’s own creation… and turned it into a victory.
Remember, the first and best way to handle failure is to not ever risk that much in the first place. It’s impossible to fail when you don’t even try. Humans have learned that we will always succeed at life if we don’t ask too much of it in the first place. Little, almost unnoticeable successes are better for us, we think, then one gigantic failure.
Or, we blame God for our failures: why should we pin our hopes and dreams on this weak, frail human being when all he’s going to do is die? What now, God? What do you have for me now?
I mean if this guy, Jesus, was truly God’s son then when we are confronted with his death on the cross we must confess that a) either he was lying about it, or b) if he wasn’t lying then God’s anger will be kindled and we are all toast.
What is God going to do with us now? How can this failure possibly transform our lives and our world? What good is Jesus for me, my spouse, my kids my own failures and anxieties, my world?
“After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.”
Dawn on that first Easter, how must it have felt… so tentative, so uneasy. The world asleep, fitfully embracing that yet another false prophet, another rabble-rouser had been put to death… but what was to happen next?
Has there ever been a story that ended more triumphantly as the story of those two women approaching the tomb that first Easter morning? Not quite light, the threads of darkness hanging over the world and two women walking towards the tomb as the first light broke through as though someone had lit the world on fire from below, kindling a new warmth, a heat, light, and life.
And an earthquake, a storm and a messenger appeared giving those two women words that continue to echo down in our lives today. “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for he has been raised. Come and see the place where he lay and then quickly go and tell. He has been raised from the dead!”
Dear friends, I am not here this morning to argue you into belief. I remain as surprised as you that God can take rejection and death and transform it into death. I am as surprised as you that God would even want to.
But here we are standing at the empty tomb together. We have experienced the grip of faith, it’s unscientific, it’s irrational, it makes us do big, brave things for God without fear of failure or rejection for when we are on the road of the journey of life with each other we remember those words, “Do not be afraid! Christ is Risen!”
Do those words echo in your own lives? The echo of that first Easter reverberates through us each step we take away from our tombs of death towards the path that Jesus has laid out for us in his body and blood.
Then Quickly Go and Tell
And those words, we wear those words in each of our daily interactions do we not? The words come and see were not followed by the words, “Now you’ll get everything you want in life” nor the words, “Now your life will be comfortable, free from anxiety, fear, worry or sadness so just sit back and bask in that glow for a while.” No. The words “come and see” were followed by the words, “Then quickly go and tell”.
A miracle is upon us this morning God has come out of the tomb. Something unexpected, undeserved has happened… Christ is Risen!
Look at yourselves, consider your own lives today…
And know this: you are also standing outside the tomb of your own low expectations, your own risk avoidance, your own shame, guilt and the weight of whatever failures you brought into this church today. Your situation, your life has been radically transformed forever.
We were once nothing. Unable to get over ourselves, our resentments, our addictions, our hatreds and now we are a family, God’s family, you’re my family. We have been chosen this day to be witnesses to the resurrection as on that first Easter so many years ago, to overthrow the accepted order, to accomplish God’s work begun and perfected on the cross and in the resurrection.
Christ is Risen!
Do you see? Do you see?
Now, quickly, go and tell!
Thanks be to God.