Easter Sunday ~ April 20, 2014
Preached at Lutheran Church of Framingham
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Resurrection event is actually pretty dramatic.
But so then was the crucifixion: the temple curtain was torn in two, the earth shook, the rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of the saints were raised and entered the city. This is a cosmic event.
Accordingly, Easter is not just a angelic choir singing Alleluia, or colored eggs, and chocolate and Peeps.
It is a frightening experience to live through. Angels (which made the guards like dead men), lightning, clothing as white as snow–it is no huge snow storm, no polar vortex, no eternal winter–but there is an earthquake.
The sky darkens and the earth quakes in grief on Friday, but images of light and a similar shaking of the earth mark the resurrection as well.
In fact, there is even a magic show: did you notice in this version that the stone isn’t already rolled away as it is in others, but is rolled away (after Jesus is out) by the angel. How did Jesus get out? It adds to the awesomeness of the resurrection.
The point is, Easter does not negate the existence of fear, sadness, suffering, and sorrow. It is not some happy Disney movie ending, with everything tied up in a nice little package (sisters reunited, true loves found, eternal life for just a snowman). There is the good news of course, but it is accompanied a wild show.
Boston experienced that over the last year. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead didn’t stop the bombs from going off. Even in the midst of the resurrection, bad things happen. Sure strength, new life, and a sense of community came out of it–we have heard plenty over the last week about the shift from Friday to Sunday for those victims over the last year. However, there are those still traumatized, feeling the effects, sitting in the starkness of Friday.
Just last night, as we were cleaning up the Easter Vigil chocolate fountain, a man walked in, seeking solace and prayer and blessing. He is going through a tough time and just passing by the church when he saw us standing in the Narthex and came inside. Our joyous celebration was infiltrated and cracked open by the sorrow in his voice and the tears in his eyes. It was a reminder, that although we had declared it officially Easter, we had said and song Alleluia many times, our society was not magically washed clean and sterilized of suffering.
However, something major does happen at the resuurection–besides the 2nd century pyrotechnics–death has been conquered! New life breaks out of the tomb and into this world. The light of the resurrection spreads–even if it is still but glimpses in the grand scheme of things to us today.
Have you ever noticed that there is fine line between laughing and crying? Sometimes it is hard to tell if someone is shaking with the giggles or shuddering with sobs. Both can bring tears to our eyes. And there is a similar line, a thin that is, between death and life. But it is because Jesus crossed that line…cried on Friday to laugh on Sunday, shuddering with his last breath on Friday to shake off the tomb on Sunday…suffered death, that we have life!
Jesus broke that barrier so that one day the other side will no longer exist and no one more will have to cross it. He took on our form, so we might dwell in his kingdom.
Christ has died–he knows our frailty and hurt
Christ is risen–he comes back to bring an end to it
Christ will come again–and so sends the disciples back to Galilee, to the mountain where he taught them what life is like in God’s Kin-dom; they are reminding of what the end is and are sent out to seek it, spread it, and live it.
And so we gather this morning, not just to remember the shiny parts, but to be assured that they outshine the dark parts of life.
That in the midst of darkness–a light shines.
In the midst of valleys–we are not alone.
That suffering and death are not the end of Jesus’ story OR OURS–resurrection & new life are!
So we might outgrow our Easter outfits, the Easter flowers will wilt, and the candy eventually will run out, but we renew the light from that angel as a reminder that the outcome–Jesus, risen from the dead, the best-news-ever does not, it penetrates through time and space forever, and there is more than plenty to go around.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!