“Christ Is Risen, Indeed!”

Easter Sunday                                                                                                April 20, 2014

(Acts 10:34-43   Psalm 118   Colossians 3:1-4   Matthew 28:1-10)

“Christ is Risen Indeed!”

  1. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

It’s been several years since we have had two baptisms on Easter morning.  We are having one baptism at each worship service this today.  But the baptisms of this morning began last evening.  Today’s baptisms began with our lighting of the Easter candle last evening.

 As we lit the Easter candle we prayed the prayer that begins, “…on this most holy night when our savior Jesus Christ passed from death to life, we gather in vigil and prayer. Through light and the word, through water and oil, through bread and wine, we proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection….”

We lit the Easter and then prayed:  “The light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” 

The one enduring hope for every day of our lives is this: that light will come into our darkness…..that Christ may dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

This promise—light into darkness— comes true with the Easter story.  This is the promise into which Grace Anna Fisher and Masiel Aurand Scott will be baptized this Easter morning, “that the light of Christ will dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.”

We know that these two small girls, as is the case with all children, will be thrown into the dark waters of suffering all too soon, but today they enter into the beautiful living water of light!  Today they are signed and sealed with the cross of Jesus Christ!

So in the Easter story we heard today……we pick up the story early Sabbath morning, as the week is dawning.  We meet Mary Magdelene and another Mary going to the tomb.  Matthew’s is the most dramatic of the four resurrection narratives.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are going, just to see the tomb, we are told. Nothing about taking spices to anoint the body.  Nothing about their anxiety about who will roll back the stone.  Nothing about finding the burial linens neatly folded inside the tomb.  Early morning walk to the tomb, is all we are told.

And then, an earthquake!  A great earthquake, we are told!  As I always say to my grandson, “so what’s that all about?”  Why the earthquake?  Because it still takes an angel from heaven to show up to roll back the stone. 

So, finally, the stage is set for this marvelous event!  We have finally arrived in the first row of our seats at “Sight and Sound” theater in Lancaster.  We fully expect Jesus to rise out of the smoke, coming out of the tomb with his arms raised, singing the Alleluia Chorus!  Surprise!  It doesn’t happen!  No smoke!  No clouds!  No Alleluia Chorus!  No Jesus!

The tomb is already empty!   The resurrection has already taken place!  So how did Jesus get out without moving the stone? Surprise!

Then it is the angel who tells the women to go and tell the disciples of Jesus’ resurrection.  An interesting turn of events!  It is the angel who sends the women to go and proclaim the Good News! So they take off running!  But it’s not over!  

Then Jesus does show up!  Jesus gets in their way! Jesus slows them down!  They recognize him; they take hold of him; they worship him.  Then Jesus, himself, commissions the women to go and tell the disciples the Good News that he will be there very soon.

Easter faith is not, ever a simple thing!  One of the things this Easter story shares in common with all the other Easter stories is that they all remind us of just how difficult and confusing our relationship with Jesus can be.

In the next two weeks we will hear stories of Jesus coming through locked doors, and then showing up on a road uninvited as dejected disciples walk away from it all.  We know other stories of Jesus showing up on the beach and making breakfast for the disciples.  In every one of these stories, the people who have been his best friends, everyone of them is confused, and they struggle to know who Jesus is!

And so it’s okay if that is where you are right now.  It’s okay if you are still trying to figure out how Jesus fits into your life!  It’s okay! But thank you for being here this morning, even as you are still trying to figure it out.

The really Good News of Easter is that God does not demand that we have the Risen Christ all figured out.  The really, really Good News of Easter is that the Risen Christ comes searching for us. 

The Risen Christ will keep looking for us with wounded hands, coming to us when we are most fearful from a recent medical report; seeking us out when we are angry and unforgiving when we have been hurt;  searching for us when we have more important things to do.

The Risen Christ came to Gama Droiville (did you read that story?), the 13-yr-old boy who was shot  by stray bullets in the Queens area of New York City, as he stood with his family outside a pizza shop.  It seems as if he will survive, although still unsure the degree of brain damage.  He told the reporters this past week that the only thing that kept him calm as he lay on the sidewalk bleeding was he kept saying, “The Lord is with me!” “The Lord is with me!” That’s what kept him calm!

Jesus came to be with the hopeless and the dangerous.  He came to be with the violent, those out of control.  He comes to be with seekers, with little children, with foolish disciples like me and you who are most of the time really slow at responding to the Risen One.

And Easter happens every time a person is baptized.

And at every baptism, we promise that we will proclaim Christ’s promise of light into our darkness by hearing the Word, by hauling ourselves to the table of the Lord’s Supper, even when we are feeling lonely, unworthy, uninvolved, unneeded, uninterested, unloved. Welcome Grace! Welcome Masiel!

And we continue to live these promises, and we continue to make the Risen Christ known to all the world.  May grace open our eyes to this deeper faith. 

Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

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