Sunday, April 12, 2009

Only Love Can Leave Such a Mark

John 20:1-18
Easter Sunday, April 12

Magnificent, by U2 (2009)

Magnificent, Magnificent

I was born/I was born to be with you/In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven't had a clue/Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love/only love can leave such a mark
But only love/only love can heal such a scar

I was born/I was born to sing for you/I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice/From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love/only love can leave such a mark
But only love/only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent/Magnificent

Only love/only love can leave such a mark
But only love/only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent/Magnificent

This is where we live. This morning, this celebration, this observance. Easter. This is the day that makes us who we are. Christmas has its pleasures, and Pentecost has its significance, but we live in Easter. Every Sunday morning is a mini celebration of the resurrection of the Lord, and today the mini turns into the focus.

The original meaning of the eggs, and the rabbits, and the flowers, and the other stuff, they all meant something else originally, but it doesn't matter now, other than just knowing. It has all been bent to point to what Easter is about.

Christ is risen! Despite everything that was done to him, all of the horrible and brutal, cruel things that have been done to Christ, he rose from the dead.
The message went out, first by Mary Magdalene, then by the disciples, then by the church, down through the centuries, down from someone to you. And here you are.

He was born to sing for us--he was born to tell us of God's love. And the song we made him sing was one of love in the midst of cruelty. So he sang it. He was not born to die, like a clone or beef cattle, but when it became clear that this was the only way we were going to understand he walked that path. Now, through Pentecost, through the coming of the Holy Spirit after his death, he has given us back our voice. His voice is now heard in what we say, in what we do.

Only a love like his could have left such a mark. The marks on his hands, his feet, and his side. Only a love like God's could have healed such scars. Those Marks were what killed him, and the scars were healed. He lives!

Do we really have to have scientific proof of the possibility of resurrection to be able to believe that God does amazing things? Haven't we seen it in our own lives? Haven't we all seen things we can't understand? Is it really always coincidence? Why do we hesitate to attribute what we can't understand to the possibility of something in the world greater than ourselves? Do we really think we, 21st century humans, are the pinnacle of understanding and advancement? That nothing can evolve further from us?

So did the Roman Empire. So did Lehman Brothers. And there's the old poem about the traveler who finds, in the middle of the desert, the two tall legs of a statue, with the body and the head lying half-buried in the sand, no one for miles around. The base of the statue says:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Truth is, we are no different from the people who were in daily contact with Jesus. I see too much of Peter's acting without thinking, too much of Thomas' needing proof for everything, in us to think we are much different. We are them, they are us. And Jesus chose them to spread the word of God's love. Those ordinary, faltering, wrong-half-the-time disciples. And when he was raised from the dead, the first one to know was someone even lower on the social ladder then they were. They had to hear of it from Mary Magdalene, who was less than nothing in that culture. As the old Spiritual says, the bottom rung done got on top!

Jesus chose them, imperfect as they were. Jesus has now chosen us, imperfect, unworthy and clueless as we are. They succeeded. So can we.

Because we have the mark. Only love can leave such a mark. A mark that makes us different. Ruins us for the world. We operate with a shadow now, a conscience, a Spirit which is within us reminding us that we re marked. Only love can leave such a mark, but only love can then heal such a scar.

You and I are called to magnify to highlight God's love. This is our work. This is who we are, what we are. What we do to get a paycheck and feed ourselves is not who we are. We are more than P&G. We are more than nurses, we are more than retired, we are more than handymen, we are more than teachers.

We are more than Americans. We are fathers, we are mothers, we are Christians. We are justified in Christ, we are loved, we are called. This is where we live.


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