If Easter Is True…

tomb

If Easter is True…
March 31, 2013
Luke 24:1-12

You know, if you’ve come here this morning and aren’t quite sure that you believe
in the empty tomb…
If you aren’t sure if Easter is true…
then you’ve come to the right place;
you’re listening to the right message;
because no one there that first Easter day did either.

The women certainly didn’t.
They came bearing spices to anoint a body…
not a rock.

When the two men in dazzling clothes
proclaim: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
The women don’t respond, “He is risen indeed ! Alleluia!”
Instead they say, “Huh? What do you mean?”

When they then run off and tell the disciples, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
The disciples don’t exclaim, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
Instead they say, ”It’s an idle tale,” “a silly story,” “hysterical women.”

So if you’ve come here this morning and aren’t quite sure what to make out of this empty tomb…
…When we say, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
And you’re thinking something more along the lines of, “Well, maybe…I’m not sure….”
You’re not alone.

There are so many reasons NOT to believe in the resurrection.

We are intelligent people.
We know that people who are dead do not come back to life.
They don’t.
So if Easter is true – if the tomb was empty it must have been some sort of an illusion, or a trick perhaps.
And we don’t like to get caught up in illusions.

When we were growing up, my siblings and I had a favorite museum.
It was the “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” museum in Niagara Falls.
Every time we visited the Falls (which we did rather often, because it was on the way to visit family),
we would gather outside the window of the museum,
where they advertised, their huge collection of “odd, strange, and unbelievable artifacts from around the world!”

Every visit, we begged my father to let us go inside…
and every visit he’d respond the same way,
“You don’t believe in that stuff do you?
Don’t waste your money on it.”

Was the empty tomb just some cruel trick?
If so, we don’t want to waste our money – let alone our hearts – in it.
Easter is hard to believe because it’s hard to understand.

The resurrection is also hard to believe because sometimes it just seems too good to be true.
Sometimes things are just too overwhelmingly good for us to even imagine they could be possible!

When she was a little girl, my sister Joanne loved the TV show called, “Boomtown.”
Her hero and host of the show was cowboy Rex Trailer.

She would be so excited when he came on the air,
that she would stand in front of the TV set, unable to sit down.
She would literally jump up and down in excitement
as she heard the theme song.

But when finally Rex would enter the studio and greet the boys and girls who were watching,
Joanne would have to leave the room.
It was too much.
It was too good – she couldn’t bear it!

Sometimes things are so good – that we can scarcely bear or believe them.
Is Easter too good to believe?

We can find it difficult to believe Easter is true
because our minds cannot explain it;

We can find it difficult to believe Easter is true
because our hearts are overwhelmed by how good it is;

Or, in a deeper and more complex way, we can find it difficult to believe Easter is true
because our deepest selves fear and even resist it.

Think about it…
if Easter is true, then it pretty much follows that the rest of what Jesus had to say is true too.
That thing about loving your neighbors as yourself? True.
That thing about selling what you have and giving it to the poor? True.
That thing about loving your enemies? True.
That thing about forgiving others 70 times 7? True.
That thing about going out two by two to tell others the story? True.

Or how about these…
If what Jesus promised about the resurrection… if Easter is true…. then
That thing about stoning and persecutions for his followers? That is true too.
That thing about being rejected by those whom you love? True.
That thing about being willing to die for faith? True.

On its deepest level,
sometimes it’s difficult to believe Easter is true,
because we fear or even resist the changes in our lives that go along with faith.

Think about it…if Good Friday was the end of the Jesus story, the disciples could relax.
Their little mid-life crisis was over and they could go back to doing what they knew so well–
mending nets, fishing, or collecting taxes.
They could go back to Galilee and see their families once again.
They could return to their lives of peace and maybe even embrace boredom.

But for me, one of the most compelling arguments for belief in the resurrection is that they did not.
Those first witnesses of the resurrection went on to die for their faith.
Only John is said to have survived to old age.
The others were stoned or beheaded, crucified or speared.

Whatever they thought of the women’s story when they first heard the news that Easter day,
not long afterwards, they knew it was not simply an ‘idle tale.’
From then on, they no longer thought or lived in terms of, “If Easter is true….”
but rather they thought and lived fully in terms of, “Since Easter is true…”
And their lives were changed forever.

On this Easter Eve(Day), by the gift and grace of God,
we too boldly proclaim, “Since Easter is true…”

Since Easter is true we have trust in the resurrection of our lives.
Since Easter is true we have hope of new life wherever we see only death.
Since Easter is true, we have assurance of forgiveness and eternal life.

Since Easter is true,
it is true even though we cannot explain it.

Since Easter is true,
it is true even though its goodness is overwhelming sometimes.

Since Easter is true,
it is true even though it can be frightening as we are called to change our lives to be more like Jesus.

Easter is true!
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Amen.

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