Easter Day, April 12, 2009

Alleluia! His is risen! (joyfully) Alleluia! He is risen. (questioning) Alleluia! He is risen. (awe, whispered, fright)
Imagine you are with these women. What incredible, unbelievable, astonishing news you have just been told. He who was dead is not there. Where his body lay there is only empty space. And this strange man is telling you the impossible. Jesus who was dead is no longer dead, not in the deepest, fullest meaning of that word. The earthly man is gone that is true, but Jesus, the Christ, is alive. He has been raised. God has raised him to new life, to a spiritual life, to a real life that is beyond our material senses but that yet can be grasped by them in some mysterious way. It is true. And it is unbelievable.
No wonder they were afraid. If we are honest, does not this day leave us dumbfounded? If we are honest, are not our hearts both rejoicing and quaking at the same time? The power of God has gotten into the middle of our life and death and done what only God can do through the medium of human, incarnated, flesh and blood and bone. We ought to be in awe. We ought to be shaken to our core. I imagine it to be a bit like those moments of sheer terror and utter joy that we experience simultaneously in our lives such as those first few moments after saying marriage vows or when our newborn child is placed in our arms for the first time.
And our hearts at the same time are lifting, lifting, lifting with joy and hope and peace that our God is alive. Our hearts are soaring on the wings of the Spirit that life is bigger than death, that love is greater than hate and fear, that weakness is stronger than the greatest dominance, that God’s purposes work through our evil and our sin for love, for forgiveness, for transformation. Our lives are bound to Jesus’ life and we will rise again and again. Our God will raise us up if we live for him and with him and in him. Our life is marked by the cycle of birth and death and rebirth, once physically, but many, many times spiritually. It is the journey to our true self and our true life and given meaning when understood as part of this great revelation and risen life of the crucified one.
Our world and our peoples lives our marked by this same truth. Though we grind each other into the dust, though we kill and rob, though we reject and oppress one group on another throughout our histories, God is there so that we may rise. For God and our risen life is what lies ahead. It is the future for which we dream and sacrifice and work. It is the future that frees the oppressed and the oppressor, the future the heals the broken life, the future that shows love made real out of all that is broken and injured. It is to glimpse heaven here on earth and to be a part of its being made real in the world. It is freedom and it is justice. It is healing and it is compassion. It is forgiveness that transforms. It is the very work of the living, risen one here and now calling us forward, calling us to Galilee where he goes ahead of us. Resurrection does not look back. It is not trapped in the past. It is rising now, rising always, rising through the heart of the world, rising through the beating love of God.
And it is to this understanding of life that we are bound together, you and I. It is to this understanding of life that we put our trust in as Christians. It is to this understanding that we submit and seek to live out in our lives. It is to this resurrection-shaped reality that we join when we are baptized. It is to this, Owen, that you are joining. As part of this Body of Christ, as one who is caught up in the resurrection-shaped life, as one who is part of a God that works in this way your life will always be pulled towards rising. Nothing, no one, can ever destroy this unbreakable bound between you and God. You are marked as his forever, loved forever, called forever into the dance of dying to live. Whatever befalls us, the crucified and risen one is there, holding us, calling us, enduring with us, transforming us, uniting us to God. It can be broken by nothing, not even death. This is the foundation of our undying joy as Christians and the well-spring of our hope. Not that life is easy or that there is no evil that will ever touch us, but that our God is risen, risen through the worst the world can do.
Alleluia! The Lord is risen. Alleluia! The Lord is risen. Alleluia! The Lord is risen. May our alleluias ring and rise throughout the world this day and always. Amen.