Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resurrection is for the Living

Matthew 28:1-10
Easter 2011

We are gathered here this morning because
Love is stronger than hate,
because the Power of Life trumps the power of death,
because all the evil in the world
cannot stop God’s grace from Raining Down,
because God’s Forgiveness never Fails.

This week a woman told me that when her husband died, a friend came by to sit with her and weep.  And the friend then said the most profound and beautiful thing, “You know,” he said, “Resurrection isn’t just for the dead.  It is also for the living.” 

That’s an earthshaking message!  On the first Easter morning, that shining angel descended, rolled back the stone to prove the tomb is empty, and told the women, “Jesus is alive!  He’s going to meet you where you live.” 

The women were from Galilee, you see.  As were most of the disciples.  That’s where they had linked up with Jesus.   It was home.  And when Jesus rose from the dead,
when he defeated all the evil and pain
and sorrow and sin
that the powers of this world could throw at him, 
he left the message that those women and their “brethren”  could meet up with him where they lived
and worked
and raised their families
and confronted their own challenges to faith and life.

Christ is alive!   We may encounter him where we live!

On Easter my job is so easy, because I don’t have to explain the resurrection, or make sense of all the details of each of the four Biblical accounts.  You don’t need to be reminded of the disciples’ psychological processes, or their stages of grief, or whatever.  Or told what you have to believe about the how and wherefore of resurrection. 
I like what theologian Rowan Williams said about the church’s job  -

“For the Church does not exist just to transmit a message across the centuries about what people must believe; it exists so that people in this and every century may encounter Jesus of Nazareth as a living contemporary.  Everything the church does – celebrating Holy Communion, reading the Bible, baptizing believers, (even raising butterflies, I might add)  – is meant to be in the service of this contemporary encounter. Our every action ought to be transparent to Jesus, not holding back or veiling his presence.” – Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Easter Sermon excerpt, (2008?)

All that we have to do together this morning is to point out and to celebrate the amazing presence of the living Christ in our lives. Resurrection is for living, and we are living it - some in dramatic ways, some in more subtle transformations, some in individual lives, some in reconciled relationships and resurrected families. 

Some of the resurrection is visible when we look around the church, especially when we baptize and welcome new members into the life of faith. 

You want to see new life in the church?  We can point to Brenna, and Clay and Lexy and Henry and Madeline.  They asked to be baptized and confirmed.  They wanted to take this step and publicly join the family of God.  New life for them.  New life for us.  Hallelujah! 

The resurrection is being lived in our choir.  You don’t know how long that choir loft stood empty.  And now, songs of praise rise from willing voices!

I look at this congregation and see people who have met the risen Christ in the pages of scripture. “Human words with divine energy behind them.” (Rowan Williams, again.) 

I see people in Recovery.  New Life emerging.  People who have taken hold of a second chance at health, a second chance at love, a second chance at a life of meaning and purpose. 

And I see those who wait in faith and trust as Jesus wipes the tears of grief and sorrow from their eyes.  The Risen Christ is living each day with those who face the uncertain future with the certainty that Christ will somehow be there.

How is the Risen Christ alive in us and among us?  Let me count the ways!

But it’s better if YOU count them, and count yourself among those who live life with the friendship and support of the One who rose from the grave to share His life with you. 

If you are longing for his presence in your life, Easter morning is the perfect time to let the angel’s message shake your world and open whatever stone is blocking the entrance to your heart.  Easter morning is the perfect time to put aside your fears and encounter Jesus, the Savior.  There’s no better time than Easter morning to spiritually fall at His feet and worship one who wants, more than anything, to live with you and through you, now and forever. 

The poet Rumi wrote,

The Risen Christ runs down the street
Knocking on every door
Come out!  Come out! he calls,
I want to resurrect somebody!

1 comment:

Crimson Rambler said...

this is really, really lovely! Thank you for sharing it -- blessings in the Great Fifty Days!