Easter—Year C—March 31, 2013
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!
How’s your memory?
Would you say you have a good memory?
There are many things that I am bad at remembering. For instance, when it comes to names, I struggle. Or with memorizing Organic Chemistry reactions, count me out.
But every once in a while I can recall a memory with great precision. I can close my eyes and picture the scene clearly. I can tell you where I was facing and who was around and what everyone was wearing. My family makes fun of me for this because I usually have this kind of recall for seemingly unimpressive and unimportant events.
But that is all relative isn’t it? You never know when something is going to be important to remember later on. You might be sitting in a general education class that has nothing to do with your major and career path barely paying attention only to realize years later that something you remember from that class really comes in handy. Or you are might be casually listening to a friend share a story only to have a piece of that conversation be of great importance later.
I imagine that is how many of Jesus’ follower experienced the resurrection. We know from the records we have in the Bible that Jesus taught, healed, and travelled a lot. So it must have been hard to constantly keep up and follow the conversation, let alone remember every word and understand what Jesus meant by those words. They could not be sure what was most important to remember, and what they could afford to file away deep down somewhere.
We know that Jesus told his followers about what was going to happen to him, that he was going to be handed over to the enemy, killed, and then rise three days later. But if a close friend and teacher of yours had told you that, how would you have reacted? Especially when it was thought that the Jewish Messiah would be a great conqueror and king, not condemned as a criminal.
Jesus defied expectations in many ways, and so it is understandable that his followers would be confused when Jesus predicted the death that he was to endure, and disheartened after Jesus’ death. They were most likely expecting some sort of coup, but instead they ended up with a corpse. In the moment, the rest of Jesus’ prediction did not come to mind.
But just because they did not understand that Jesus would not be at the tomb Sunday morning, does not mean that they could not be reminded into understanding. And that is exactly what the “two men in dazzling clothes” did for the women. They did not start at the beginning and re-teach everything Jesus had; they simply told them to remember what Jesus said. That is all more the women needed to understand.
And that is mostly what we do here in worship. We work to remind ourselves of God’s words to us. Through our songs, praise, prayers, and sacraments, we collectively remind ourselves of God’s promises to us. We do not attend worship or Bible Study in order to gain anything we do not already have. All of those are simply reminders of the truth that is already a part of us. It is inherent in the image in which we were created. Weekly we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of the three days—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the empty tomb on Easter Morning! We remember that Christ gave his body and blood for us!
Sometimes these simple reminders do not work as quickly. Sometimes the words seem just “an idle tale.” That does not mean that you are doing anything wrong or that you are not good enough to understand that power of the promises of God. It simply means that another day, another way, you will be reminded. That is why you need not fear if one Sunday, you do not get as much out of a service or sermon. Rest assured that someone else most likely got what they needed; they were reminded. Your time will come. The Holy Spirit will work renewed faith in you, and probably is working right now without you even realizing, laying the foundation for you to remember and believe.
So why not come to the Lord’s house, gather with the body of Christ, surround yourself with the Word of God as often as possible, because you never know when your “two men in dazzling clothes” are going to appear in the midst of a prayer, a song, your neighbor, a sermon, or a meal.
We all have times where we are standing in the graveyard, dealing with the dark times of our lives, feeling utterly alone and defeated. But even then we are not alone. Remembering is being worked in us, so do not lose heart if you do not remember so that you can trust right away.
Today we gather to be reminded; we gather to celebrate the resurrection, as we do every Sunday, for the empty tomb is a reminder to us all that death is not the end of the story and sin and evil do not get the last word.
Maybe hearing the old old story will be enough to remind you that Christ is risen and that you too trust that you share in his new life. Or maybe it will take you running to the tomb to see for yourself. Or maybe it will take a face-to-face encounter with the risen Christ among the gathered body of Christ.
No matter what form your reminder takes, I pray with assurance that the Holy Spirit move in whatever form, exactly when you need it, for you all are children of God, claimed, named, loved, forgiven, redeemed, washed, fed, precious, and RISEN. It is true for all of us, but just like the women and Peter, that does not make me any less “amazed at what had happened.”
Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia! Amen.