Year B, Easter April 1, 2018 The Reverend Dr. Brent Was
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised…”
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! <The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!>
Happy Easter, everyone! We made it! Alleluia! Another turn around the sun, another Lent, another Holy Week, another dying and rising in glory with Jesus Christ! Happy Easter!
It has been a great week here at the Church of the Resurrection, We’re doing our best at living up to our name sake, this and every Sunday is a Feast of the Resurrection, and that best is pretty good. I do love you all, and love celebrating the gifts of God with you. It takes a lot of people to lead a parish, especially through these high holy days. You know who you are. We know who you are. Thank you.
So here we are on Easter morning. Two thousand years ago, on Easter morning, all they had was an empty tomb. Well, an empty tomb, a promise and a bunch of terror and amazement. In the near term, 2000 years ago, everything was great. The promise was kept. Jesus indeed did go ahead of them to Galilee. We’ll hear the ancient stories over the next six weeks of Easter, the accounts of Jesus before His Ascension to the right hand of God. He did go ahead of them to Galilee, a lot of people saw Him, heard Him, touched Him, were fed by Him, the Risen Lord lived! And the terror was assuaged, for a while, at least until the persecutions began. And, thanks be to God, the amazement of those women at the tomb not only didn’t fade, it spread like a brush fire.
Two thousand years later, we are here on Easter morning, April Fools day, we, fools for Christ, are still here. Why? The tomb is still empty. When we really open to it, when we try hard, we can hear a faint echo of the terror (3:00 AM on Good Friday morning is a good time to listen for it). Oh, there is still amazement. Our spiritual lives, when you take them seriously, can amaze! Church, all the life we are surrounded by is amazing! But is it amazing enough? Why are we still here, 2000 years later, celebrating an empty tomb?
The promise of Jesus Christ still stands. He’s no longer in Galilee (well no more than anywhere else); He’s not offering His hands and side for us to touch (oh that He world, sometimes); He’s not feeding us a breakfast of fish and bread; but if 2000 years of being Christian has taught us anything, it is that Jesus Lives! and Jesus is Lord! That’s what Easter is all about.
Now for those of you who aren’t here very often, welcome! You picked a good day to join in the celebration. You probably expect to hear things like Jesus Lives! and Jesus is Lord! It is church, it’s the kind of thing we are supposed to say, right? Well, yes, and that is not necessarily how we talk about it, but you know what, I think it might be helpful for us to reclaim some of the language that we have conceded to other ways of reckoning Christian faith, because you know what, Jesus DOES Live and Jesus IS Lord! And that’s all there is to it. In fact, that’s the central meaning of this Easter feast.
Jesus lived a long time ago. And then He died. But then He lived again. He was Resurrected! But the Christian story isn’t just about some supernatural continuation of life, some promise of life after death that we will receive on the coattails of a savior. No. Jesus lives. From way back then, in the dusty streets and remote hill sides of Judea, Jesus lived and breathed as we do, and through His prophetic preaching, profound teaching, His miraculous healing and feeding, His friendships and love, He seeped into the hearts of so many that He touched. And in being taken from those who loved Him, by the grace of God, the love, the earth shaking-mountain rocking-temple quaking love He brought into the world, love that He felt for God and everyone blasted like a supernova through time and space marking those who believe and inviting those who don’t into a whole new way of seeing the world. It does not have to be a fight! Love is stronger than swords! You can forgive others their sins against you and you are already forgiven for yours. The new way is right here! Right here for those with the strength and grace to live as if this new way, a way He called the Kingdom, the Reign of God. To live as if it were actually true is salvation. Jesus Lives.
Jesus lives in our hearts when we let Him in and when we follow His way. From way back then to right here, this morning, billions, BILLIONS of our brothers and sisters have experienced Jesus Christ as a living reality over twenty centuries in every corner of the planet. Dreams. Visions. Music. Art. Words. Friendships. Empathy. Mercy. Love. Jesus lives and moves and has our beings; when we let Him. Even when we just stop saying no to Him, He is there. Jesus Lives in this whole new way in each of our hearts. In the heart of this community. Jesus Lives! in the Eucharist we share each week, as a billion of our brothers and sisters share each week in north and south and east and west. Jesus lives!
And Jesus is Lord! In life, Jesus was a great man: loved by many, hated as befitted His greatness. But it really wasn’t until after He died and rose again that we really begin to understand how great He was. So we started to really use the word Lord for Him. Lord, a problematic word, as patriarchal as it gets, does have great connotations. Great unto divine connotations (hence the problem, but it is lodged in many of our hearts). As time passed, our understanding of Jesus evolved, and it was quick, one week out Thomas confessed “My Lord and my God!” in that locked room. And three hundred years out we were at “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God…” and it continued.
When we say “Jesus is Lord!” we acknowledge that this man, this creature like us in some mysterious way was, is God, an aspect, a person, a personality of God that again, mysteriously, became flesh and shared our lot in our very human way ra long time ago. God was one of us. And that God, Jesus, lives! Not out there, but in here, where God belongs, in our hearts and minds and souls and strength and in the spaces in between us in the divine mystery of loving relationship. As we sang at the footwashing on Thursday night, Ubi caritas, et amor, deus ibi est. Where true charity and love is found, God is there. That is here in our heart, and here in loving community, brought to us by the Living God who is Lord, and in being such, is our savior.
The tomb is empty. Jesus Lives! Jesus is Lord! Alleluia, Christ is Risen! <The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!> Happy Easter everyone. AMEN