|Acts 10:34-43 |
1 Cor. 15:19-26
|April 17, 2022|
St. Mary’s Regina
Revd. Paula Foster
Alleluia! He is Risen, the Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! That’s our shout, our cry, our joyous exclamation today. Three days after He died, the tomb is empty…..our Lord Jesus is risen! It’s amazing, it’s baffling, and yet it’s unbelievably true. We celebrate The Resurrection of Jesus along side millions of Christians throughout the world today. We all know the story,..most of us have heard it all our lives, but do you believe it? Does it make you stop and think about your life and the way you live? What do you believe about God and about Jesus…about the cross……and about the empty tomb? (Pause)
A few years ago, a survey was done here in Canada and according to the survey almost everyone in Canada believes in God. (I apologize because I don’t remember the name of the magazine). The survey also reported that most people believe that there was a man named Jesus, who lived a moral life, and who taught the law of God and who died on a cross.
But what I found interesting, was that when it comes to the empty tomb…many people draw a line and refuse to cross it. They begin to speak about what is possible and impossible, about what is really real and what is not and about what is believable and what is unbelievable. Maybe you’re one of them. One of the reasons for so much discussion is that resurrection is not natural! Death is natural and when someone dies, we bury them and that’s the end of the story. We don’t return to the grave a few days later and discover an empty tomb. It just doesn’t happen that way.
But that’s exactly what happened with Jesus! The same Jesus that most Canadians profess to believe in, died once, was buried once and then was resurrected once. The resurrection was a one-time event in history, never to be repeated. Once in human history, God enters our story as one of us…born of flesh and blood. Just like us…because Jesus is completely human. His life is governed by the same natural laws as our lives. When he hits his finger with a hammer, it hurts, when he gets a cut, he bleeds. He laughs, he cries, he needs friends and good food and companionship just like you and me.
The difference between His life and ours is that His is centered on God. Jesus listened closely to God..prayed to God for guidance….knew without a doubt that He was loved deeply by God. In fact, that was his message, over and over, Jesus told people how much God loves them and cares about them. Some of them understood, sort of, but most did not. His message is too radical. There is too much love….too much forgiveness…too much mercy. God’s grace abounds and we don’t know what to do with it. Perhaps it’s because we know who we are…lost, lonely and needy. We know our limits for loving, for being merciful, for offering forgiveness to others and maybe more importantly, for accepting forgiveness for ourselves.
Let’s face it, we are broken people. We always seem to need to hear the story again! Our lives, our society, our world is evidence enough that we don’t get the Easter message. We live as if we don’t believe that God loves us. We live as if it doesn’t matter that God’s grace is freely given to us. And we live as if we don’t believe that God has plans for us and expectations of us. Think about this…What are God’s expectations for you? What can you do for God? Who can you become for God? If we don’t believe in God’s love, God’s grace, God’s challenges, then clearly, we need to read this story again.
So here we are….another Easter morning. What will happen here today? The truth is, our actions, our behaviours, the way we act/live from Easter to Easter indicates that we don’t expect much of anything to happen here today at all, because more than likely, tomorrow we will live in the exact same way we always have.
Perhaps we don’t expect very much from Easter. Perhaps today is just another Sunday. Perhaps Easter is simply a day to spend with friends and family, to share a good meal. Perhaps that’s all we want or expect.
Because the fact is, it would be awfully inconvenient for something more powerful to happen to us on the Day of Resurrection. If we came to the tomb and found it empty….Jesus raised from the dead, and understood what and how God was working in this one time event, we might have to live differently. We might have to take to heart all of those things that Jesus taught during his lifetime. We might need a refresher course in the gospel. We might discover that His way IS better than our way, that his idea of living the Kingdom IS better than ours, that His idea of living and loving IS right for us. We’d have to begin changing our lives, today….starting right now.
But if our lives stay the same, if we live on “Business as usual”, we’re saying we either don’t believe in the resurrection….or worse and probably truer: we believe—we just don’t care enough to let it change and transform who we are.
Easter is a time of transformation….death into life, sorrow into joy. But the empty tomb and the risen Christ are only part of Easter. Like that old saying “If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound”….If Christ is crucified and resurrected and no one talks about it, and no one changes because of it, and no one is transformed by it…does it matter? Life where death was expected…what else can God do to show us love? A beginning where an end seemed certain…what else can God do to challenge us into action? Eternal joy where grief overwhelmed….what else can God do to show us grace?
So come to the empty tomb this Easter morning….what do you expect to see here? The bomb expected to hold Jesus is EMPTY. Death, expected to stop life, is conquered. Crucifixion, expected to finish Jesus’ ministry ends in resurrection. Expect the unexpected…Christ is risen. Expect the unexpected and let Christ’s resurrection work new life in you. Expect the unexpected, Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! Amen.