Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

Matthew 28:1-10, Easter A, April 20, 2014 

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Empty Child

The Doctor is a troubled man because he has experienced so much death and destruction in his many years. It seems like as soon as he begins to care for a new companion, he loses that person. Each mission that he encounters, almost always somebody dies. Whether that person is for him or against him, the Doctor grieves whenever a life is lost. Almost everywhere he turns, he faces the death of others, and sometimes his own death as well. 

So, when he meets a young child wearing a gas mask who cries out, “Mummy? Are you my Mummy?” he is grieved to his heart. When he finds others with the same affliction, he seems lost and confused. He wants to heal these people from their calamity, but he isn’t sure how.

Good Friday
Even in our own lives, we are faced with misfortune. We too have lost loved ones. We have been with others as they grieve over whatever tragedy they just experienced. We have known times that remind us of Good Friday. Just three days ago, we remembered how all of humanity played a role in Christ’s death. We walked with him to the cross. We shouted, “Crucify him!” We cried for this man that we love. 

But the story didn’t end there. We may have put Jesus to death, but God did not let that be the final word. Indeed, Easter is God’s response to Good Friday. God raised Jesus from the dead, and in so doing, God also saved the world. We all have life everlasting because Jesus died for us and God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ death and resurrection are two sides to the same coin. 

Resurrection retold
This turn from despair to hope, from gloom to joy is what we see in the Gospel lesson. Early on Sunday morning, it is about three days after his crucifixion. Two women, both named Mary want to pray near Jesus’ body. So, they go to the tomb.

As they approach it, the earth shook violently. They saw a man glowing in bright white clothing descend from heaven. They watch as man rolls away the stone and sits upon it. He must be an angel of the Lord. The Roman guards shake with fear and faint. Then the angel looks both Marys in the eyes. He tells them, “Do not fear.” Clearly, he has a prophetic message to share.

He continues, “I know that you seek Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here. He has been raised. Come! See the place where he was lying.” Here is unexpected yet good news for these ladies. They no longer need to grieve because the man they care about is not in the tomb. He is alive again!

Then the angel sends them on their way: “Quickly! Go. Tell his disciples that he was raised from the dead. Behold! He is going before you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now, here is something special. The angel sends the Marys to find the disciples and send them back home to Galilee. At that time, women had no legal authority, and their testimony could not be trusted. When they share the good news with the disciples, will they believe?

Awestruck by this angel and overjoyed that Jesus is alive, they run. Before they can reach the disciples, something amazing happens! Before their very eyes they see Jesus standing there in front of them. He says to them, “Greetings!” as if nothing has happened. Without missing a beat, they bow down before him, grasping his feet and praising him. Then Jesus says to them, 

“Do not be afraid. Go. Tell my brothers to go to Galilee. There they will see me.” Just like the angel said to do, Jesus also tells these women to send the disciples to Galilee. By calling them his brothers, in a way, Jesus implies that he has forgiven his ten who abandoned him and Peter who denied him. This is how Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene and Mary his mother.

The Doctor Dances

Jesus’ death and resurrection proclaim God’s love to the world, starting that blessed day two thousand years ago and continuing today. Because of this, we can experience resurrected life here, now. We see a glimpse of this in how the Doctor responds to the child with the gas mask.

When the disaster is averted and the people are restored, the Doctor shocks his companion Rose when he is so overjoyed. The Doctor lifts up the child, ecstatic that the boy is healthy and reunited with his Mummy. With all of the others healed, the Doctor exclaims, “Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once, everybody lives.” This somber man’s face lights up brighter than ever before.

Our Resurrected Life
This is what resurrected life looks like. This turn from deepest despair to great joy. Those moments of healing and restoration that bring a smile to your face. The news of a new birth, or a new job, or a successful treatment. In those moments, we know that Christ is alive. 

Resurrected life is like a woman’s body racked with disease being able to give birth and breastfeed.

Resurrected life is like an old building left vacant that now hosts a community theater.

Resurrected life is found in the two children baptized on the river this morning.

Resurrected life is found in you and me.

Resurrected life is like a sad, brooding man who can find a way to smile and shout with joy, “Everybody lives!”

What will you do with your resurrected life?  The angel and Jesus both tell the Marys to Go. Tell. We also are charged with this task. We can share our resurrected joy with the world! In word or deed, we can be the good news that others need to find. Like Kid President advised this week, “Tell a really good story with your life. Make it the kind of story people tell to remind each other how awesome things can be.”

Everybody lives. Just this once, everybody lives. So, go, tell the world how awesome life in Christ can be. Amen.

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