Easter Day, Year A, Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Rev. Jo Miller
“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” A quotation from Lewis Carol’s book, Alice in Wonderland. The book has several wonderful quotes. This one I particularly like and in the lastest movies it is used in an appropriate way. As Alice is walking toward her destiny she starts reciting six impossible things which turn out to be real. In my growing up I have heard another phrase, “If I can’t see it I don’t believe it.”
Believing in impossible things. Several nights ago on a science channel there was a program on our sun. I became mesmerized with the young physicist who was explaining the sun and so many of its properties. Our sun is an amazing star.
The scientist talked about Solar Winds- Soar winds stream off of the sun in all directions at speeds of about 1 million miles per hour. How can scientists clock the speed of solar winds and how can they clock it at 1 million miles an hour? To me that is impossible. I can’t begin to wrap my head around a million miles an hour. But it is real.
The speed of the winds coming at our atmosphere could blow it away but it doesn’t. I was so entranced at that moment that I missed the reason our atmosphere doesn’t fly off into interstellar space. Some told me at the 8 am service that it was our magnetic poles that prevent those winds from blowing us away. Amazing. There are probes that have moved deep into the Milky Way and beyond that track the solar winds, a billion or more miles out in space and the solar winds are still blowing at phenomenal speeds. The impossibility of it all but it’s real.
There were so many impossible things at the beginning of the 20th century that we take for granted. My grandparents would have never believed that you could put a contract in a machine in Eugene and FAX it to Australia in minutes. Now we just create a PDF file and e-mail them. All these documents now just fly through the air leaping from one satellite to another with great speed and not one period gets lost from the document.
Impossible, but real. Telephones that are really computers that you can use as a telephone, or a camera, or a miniature typewriter that you can text a messages to the person sitting next to you. Impossible sounding, but real. The owners of these phones can download apps such as GPS that can tell them precisely where they are sitting while they are texting the person sitting next to them.
Why are we here this morning? Did we come to hear something new, or to hear the old, old story once again. Swiss theologian Karl Barth said that what brings people to worship- not just Easter- but any day is the unspoken question clinging to our hearts and minds. “Is it true? Is it real?
Is it true that God lives and gives us life? Is it true that perhaps this creative, pulsating spirit who seems to fill all space, who established the laws of nature, then broke the law somehow by raising Jesus from the dead? We can’t prove the resurrection like proving that the solar winds travel 1 million miles an hour through space and time. There are people who refuse to believe that the earth’s climate is changing even though earth’s history shows the earth has undergone many climate changes from covering the earth in a tropical forest to Ice Ages. Impossible things that are real and true challenge us all the time. They make us uncomfortable, make us change our minds and perspective. The resurrection is not for the beginner. It is rather an advanced course to be undertaken only after reading about and dealing with the man Jesus and his life and his teachings beginning with Matthew’s sermon on the mount. We need to read and marvel at Jesus’ wisdom, learn from him, become fascinated by his life, fixed on the person of Jesus. If we begin there perhaps we are better prepared to hear this mystery of the resurrection, this impossible event and see beneath and beyond it to a much deeper reality and truth.
The resurrection was not and is not the end of the mystery. On any chosen day we may accept the indwelling presence of the living Christ or reject it. I have read several “Saul to Paul” stories from contemporary, every day people. I can choose to accept what they say or reject it ( that can’t be real). One of my favorite stories was written by a woman who considered herself a quasi-agnostic. “Yea I think there is a God, no not really.” One day while driving her car to the store she was having an internal argument with the God she really didn’t believe in when the car was filled with a blinding light. She pulled off the road and sat in her light filled car and felt a very real presence. She ended up going to seminary, becoming a Methodist minister, and then went on to teach homiletics at a Methodist seminary. Impossible, but really true. Regardless of what we can and cannot see, or believe it will always take a leap of faith. There is something in the resurrection story that reaches into the deepest regions of our hearts and minds where both doubt and faith are found.
In the resurrection God gave us such a miracle of love and forgiveness that it is worthy of faith and therefore as Paul Tillich says is open to doubt. Realities about which we hold no doubt may not be large enough to reveal God to us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” as the Word flew across the face of the Universe going 1 million miles an hour the Word threw thousand upon hundreds of thousands of pixels into the Universe creating stars and planets.
Perhaps we can say, without apology, what we proclaim at Easter is too mighty to be encompassed by certainty, too wonderful to be found only within the boundaries of our imagination. Perhaps, the resurrection is yet another impossible thing that is really true.