April 9, 2023 – Easter

26A Easter Sunday

Alleluia, We Are Risen!

GOSPEL

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.  As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:1-18

SERMON

Alleluia.  Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

Do you really believe this?  Who believes that this morning’s gospel is true?  Absolutely true? 

So let me ask you this.  What makes this story true?  Absolutely true?

Is it true because the women “found the stone rolled away from the tomb”?  Is it true because “they did not find the body of Jesus”?   Is it true because “two men in dazzling clothes” said, “He is not here, but has risen”?

If we come here today simply believing and trusting that the story as told is true, we come unprepared to receive the deeper truth that the story as told was constructed to convey.  The gift and revelation of God that is being offered.  It is not enough to just believe this story. 

And I don’t want us to leave here today simply believing in this story.  I want us to leave here today living, yes living, this story.   This story can only have meaning and it can only be true, to the extent that it is lived and experienced in our lives.  What good is it to us if the stone was rolled away from the tomb of Jesus, but the stone has not been rolled away from the tomb in which we lay trapped?

What good is it to us if Jesus has shed His burial clothes, but we have not shed our burial clothes and emerged in the awesome nakedness or vulnerability that is the experience of Divine intimacy?

What good is it to us if Jesus is raised from the dead, but we are not raised from the dead?

Today is not the wrap up or ending of a tough week for Jesus.  And it is not the happy resolution to the painful trauma of Holy Week.  Easter does not suddenly replace Good Friday, turn back time, nor does it undo the past.  And Easter is not what makes Good Friday good.  Easter is what keeps Good Friday from being the Last Friday, not just for Jesus, but for you and me as well.

Easter is what makes tomorrow possible.  East is what makes a future possible.  Easter declares us and our lives to be more and larger than what has happened to us or what we have done.  I think that is why Peter “went home, AMAZED, at what had happened”.  Yes, AMAZED, at what had happened.  He was not simply amazed at what had happen only to Jesus.  I think his amazement had as much to do with and is descriptive of what was happening to and within himself.  AMAZE is expressive of an interior transformation.  Peter experienced a change, something new, something being born and alive within himself.  He was not only a witness to the resurrection, he was, indeed, resurrected with his Lord.  And he did not just go home.  He returned to himself.  He came home to himself in the deepest sense of that word.

Who among us does not want to be amazed like that?  Don’t you want to come home to yourself?  I do.  I want to be true to myself in a way that makes a difference for the better of my life and yours.  I want to choose depth over abundance, meaning over peace of mind, love over fear, growth over comfort, vulnerability over security, humility over arrogance, wisdom over knowledge, compassion over indifference, and forgiveness over retribution.  

Look at the ways such choices enlarge and give life for ourselves as well as others.   What if that is what it looks like for the stone to be rolled away, and the grave clothing to be laid aside?  What if that is resurrection? 

What would it take for you to leave here today AMAZED, at what had happened to you, AMAZED at what is happening in you, as Peter was AMAZED?  I am not talking about amazement in the sense of something magical, out of this world, or a spectacular extravaganza.

I am talking about the kind of amazement that deepens life and gives it real meaning.  Depth and meaning that has a relationship with ultimacy.  Depth and meaning that transcend time and takes us to that place that matter first and most.   The kind of amazement that leaves us weeping in gratitude; that surprises us with our own goodness and beauty; that causes us to whisper to ourselves, “Yes, amen, let it be;” that takes our breath away, leaves us speechless, makes us glad to be alive; that opens our heart and eyes to more than we ever have imagined, the possibility of the impossible.

Let me show you what I am talking about.  Sitting among us this morning, cradled in his mother’s arms is Luca.  Luca is but a few months old.  He is amazing.  We look at him and see the miracle of life, the beauty of creation, the image and face of God revealed in a human being, revealed in human flesh.  Is that not amazing?  Take a good look at him. Consider all that might be for him as he grows into full stature.  What do you see in him that stirs amazement in you and what if you allow him to be a mirror that reflects what is amazing in you and in your life?

In the fall, on the Feast of All Saints, Luca will be baptized, be reborn in the Spirit, and begin a new life of growing, in the words of Saint Paul, into the full stature of Christ.  

What are your best prayers, hopes, and wishes for him as he and his family anticipate what will be an awesome moment in his life?  I hope that you, as disciples of Jesus, the Risen Lord, the first born of the dead, and the first born of humanities springtime, will hope that Luca grows into his life amazed at what will have happened to him in his baptism, amazed at who is at the truest level of his identify, amazed at the life with which God will have gifted him, amazed at who he will have become and the best possibilities of the life that will lay before him .  And is that not also what we want for ourselves?

We want to leave here today, eastering.  Eastering, isn’t that a great word?  It’s a word for living and making today’s gospel true and real in our lives.  It comes from the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins. 

Easter is something we believe in.  Eastering is something that we do.

The stone has been rolled away and the grave clothes have been laid aside.  So, tell me, what do you need to choose or change, in order to leave here today eastering, and living like “a bridegroom married to amazement”, or like “a bride married to amazement”?  That is the only question that matters today.

Alleluia.  Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

But let us not stop there.  We are risen.  We are indeed risen with Him.  Alleluia.

Alleluia.  Judy is risen.  Judy is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

Alleluia.  Joseph is risen.  Joseph is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

Alleluia.  Ace is risen.  Ace is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

You get where this is going, right?  We could go on for a while.  So, on this next one, I want you to fill in the blank and to shout out your own name.

Alleluia.  ______________is risen.  ____________is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

Yes, indeed.  Yes, indeed.  Happy eastering, my dear sisters and brothers!

April 9, 2023