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Risen and Alive

Rev. Jane Willis, Wheatland United Church of Christ

Easter 2013

Matthew 28:1-10      

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.

In Matthews Gospel, we hear such a beautiful description of that moment when the resurrection is made known to Mary and Mary Magdalene. How lucky they are to hear this from an angel:  “He is not here: for he is risen” Mary and the others certainly felt overjoyed to hear of the miraculous return of their beloved teacher and leader and then to see him a few moments later as they ran to tell the others. How good it is for us to hear it again too! Darkness and evil do not win. New life arises from the old.

Why is it so great to hear this yet again? Here’s why:

  • Did a small part of you die this past year after losing someone special?
  • Did a dream blow off to Nebraska in the wind?
  • Did a way of life change?
  • Did memories get torn down?
  • Did part of your soul flame up and burn out like the fires this summer?
  • Or did you just lose hope?

The world is full of disappointments, injuries, heartaches that chip away at our “aliveness.” And I say, let it die. Whatever burdens you. Because when it dies, well that’s when new life begins.  That’s when the resurrection starts. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury said, “when Christians celebrate Easter “we are really standing in the middle of a second ‘Big Bang,’ a tumultuous surge of divine energy as fiery and intense as the very beginning of the universe.”

//

So, Easter is more than the resurrection of Jesus. It is more than Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Peeps. Today we hear again about resurrection of hope, love, compassion and a resurrection of faith in something bigger than ourselves. Paul wrote in the book of Colossians a piece of Scripture that is as important as the one we read today. He said,

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”

//

Like a blade of grass pushing up stubbornly through the sidewalk.
or
Like the butterfly emerging from the tomb-like chrysalis.
But much more.Like the seed after years of dormant death sending up sprout.
or
Like the brown bulb breaking forth from brown earth into brilliant color.
But much more.Like brilliant daybreak after stormy, darkened night.
or
Like a rainbow mystically appearing amidst the rain.
But much  more.Like a patient making an unexpected, unpredicted turn for health.
or
Like the pine cone opening to spread seed only after touched by fiery death.
But much more.

Like a beautiful vase emerging from a lump of clay in the potter’s hands.
or
Like a hidden spring burbling forth in the middle of a barren desert.
But much more.

Like the surprise of Spring’s buds pushing aside Winter’s snow.
or

Like someone finally emerging from the fatality of addiction.
But much more.

So, it comes.
Nothing else like it.
Unable to talk about it but inadequately
We celebrate this great, real mystery that
Neither language nor imagination can encompass. Easter!

The Easter begins today. It brings new beginnings and more hope than we can handle. //

It’s a time to realize life is worth living. It’s a time to realize the future can be faced and wounds will heal. It is time to let go. It’s a time to discover there is always grace in the wilderness. Because, we too are risen and alive and we can enter into our full potential as people. As Jesus said to the Mary’s, “Do not be afraid. “

Let us pray together now:    God of new life, revive us as you have revived Christ. Sing hope into our discouragement. Coax joy from our difficulties’. Warm the buds of our relationships so that they bloom with healthy love. Nudge us, woo us, entice us draw us near. Go deep to our roots and penetrate our faith with the vibrancy of your grace. And hear us now….

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