Preached on March 31, 2013
We can finally say Alleluia, again! There’s this ancient church tradition that says that during Lent, you omit the word “Alleluia from all worship, because there is nothing to be happy about.
Now is a joyful time! I’ve already talked to a few people who have food in the ovens at home, preparing for some sort of dinner event later today. A couple of the people who came to sunrise service did so because they wanted to get worship before they chained themselves to their stoves!
Some folks have decided that cooking is for the birds, and they’ve made reservations somewhere.
Some folks, like preachers, are going home and sleeping after church.
There is joy in Easter! There are joyful things to be had; candy in baskets, deviled eggs; sales at Target (or Sears),
There is joy in Easter, but sometimes we forget what the root of that joy is.
There are folks who are not in church this morning. Not everyone is Christian. Some people are celebrating Passover this week. Some are Muslim or Hindu, or something else, and some people worship at the church of St. Mattress.
But they do all benefit from the holiday we have given our culture. Our holiday is the reason for secular sales. But let’s not celebrate Easter the way that the world participates in it. At least lets not forget what it is we are really acknowledging in this holiday.
Easter is where we live. This day, and the things we commemorate on this day, is the root of all it means to be Christian.
If we do not have Easter; if we do not have the resurrection of Christ, then a very wise rabbi and teacher was killed as a political prisoner in Jerusalem by the Roman Empire, and thus endeth the story. We’re done.
He is merely a son of God the way we are all Children, and that’s it.
It takes today to make this unique and special. It takes Easter, it takes the Resurrection. It takes the women who come to the tomb at daybreak, finds the tomb open and two strange men standing there, telling them that he is not there, and going back to the disciples and saying they would love to dress the body, but there’s no body there!
In one of the other Gospels, they find the body gone, and the rest of the women go away, and Mary Magdalene is left standing there crying to talk to the gardener. He says, in a certain tone of voice, “Mary!”, and she realized that it’s Jesus.
Notice, in all these stories, that the first people to give the announcement of the empty tomb, the first ones to proclaim the Gospel, as it were, are women. They are the ones who bring the first message to the male disciples.
The message that they carried is the message we carry now. Jesus was more than just a wise man who was killed as a political prisoner. He was sent by God so that we may know God’s love. The final proof we have that God loves us, is that Jesus was raised from the dead. Death has no power over us. You may not believe in heaven, but it is your choice to do so, but in our central core of belief, we are told it is there. We can’t prove it scientifically, we can’t point to it in a telescope, or reach for it through time travel or quantum physics, but we know that death here on earth is not the end.
And God has given us the power to overcome death. We may not be as we were, but we know there is something after.
This is the joy of Easter. This is the promise of Easter. This is why we do the things we do in this world, as Christians. We follow more than just a wise man; we follow the Son of God, who was raised from the dead by God.
This is why people dip Peeps in chocolate; this is why hams are baked, and kielbasa is smoked, and potatoes are scalloped; to show love in various ways. We cannot show love by raising people from the dead, so we bake, we get up early, we dress our finest; we’re trying to express joy!
Christians have millions and millions of ways to show Christ’s love in the world. And they are all based in the joy of this day, of Easter. They are all based in the truth that Christ was given back to the world; Christ was not killed; Christ was resurrected!
And so we can say again, Alleluia!