Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter

April 5, 2015

+  I have never made a secret of this fact…but, I LOVE Easter. Some people are Christmas people. Some people are Easter people. I’m definitely an Easter person.  To be honest, I’ve never been a big Christmas fan. For me, this day is100 times better than Christmas.

During this last week, I actually got two opportunities to celebrate Easter in advance (something that doesn’t happen with Christmas). On Tuesday and on Thursday, we had funerals for two of our parishioners who both died on March 25. Funerals in the Episcopal Church are like little Easters. We get to light the Paschal Candle. We get to say the word Alleluia, even though we’re not supposed to during the Lenten season that precedes Easter.  And we get to concentrate on the fact that death, in the end, has no real power over us.

That is what Easter is all about. See, this is why I LOVE Easter.

But what’s even better about Easter in my opinion is that, unlike Christmas, which when it’s over it’s over (people put out that Christmas tree the day after Christmas), Easter happens again and again for us who are followers of Jesus. We get to experience it and all it represents mutliple times over the year.  And why shouldn’t we?  When we celebrate Easter, we are celebrating life. Eternal life.

Rob Bell one said,

“Eternal life doesn’t start when we die. It starts now. It’s not about a life that begins at death; it’s about experiencing the kind of life now that can endure and survive even death.”

I love that. Resurrection is a kind reality that we, as Christians, are called to live into.  And it’s not just something we believe happens after we die.  We are called to live into that Resurrection NOW.  By raising Jesus from the dead, God calls us to live into that joy and that beautiful life NOW.  The alleluias we sing this morning are not for some beautiful moment after we have breathed our last.  Those alleluias are for now, as well as for later. Those alleluias, those joyful sounds we make, this Light we celebrate, is a Light that shines now—in this moment. We are alive now.  We have already died with Christ when we were baptized.  And in those waters, we were raised with him, just as he is raised today and always. Easter and our whole lives as Christians is all about this fact. Our lives should be joyful because of this fact—this reality—that Jesus died and is risen and by doing so has destroyed our deaths.

This is what it means to be a Christian. Easter is about this radical new life.  It is about living in another dimension that, to our rational minds, makes no sense.  Even, sometimes, with us, it doesn’t make sense.  It almost seems too good to be true.  And that’s all right to have that kind of doubt. It doesn’t make sense that we celebrating an event that seems so wonderful that it couldn’t possibly be true. It doesn’t make sense that this event that seems so super-human can bring such joy in our lives.

Today we are commemorating the fact that Jesus, who was tortured, was murdered, was buried in a tomb and is now…alive.  Fully and completely alive.  Alive in a real body. Alive in a body that only a day before was lying, broken and dead, in a tomb. And…as if that wasn’t enough, we are also celebrating the fact that we truly believe we too are experiencing this too. Experiencing this—in the present tense.  

Yes, we too will one day die. But, THAT doesn’t matter. What matters is that that death is already defeated. We are already living, by our very lives, by our baptisms and our faith in Jesus, into the eternal, unending, glorious life that Jesus lives in this moment. Our bodies MAY be broken. Our bodies WILL die. But we will live because God raised Jesus to life.

What we are celebrating this morning is reality.  What we are celebrating this morning is that this resurrected life which we are witnessing in Jesus is really the only reality. And death is really only an illusion. We aren’t deceiving ourselves.  We’re not a naïve people who think everything is just peachy keen and wonderful. We know what darkness is. We know what death is.  We know what suffering and pain are.  Most of us here this morning have had losses in our lives. We know the depths of pain and despair in our lives.

What Easter reminds us, again and again, is that darkness is not eternal.  It will not ultimately win out.  Light will always win.  This Light will always succeed.  This Light will be eternal.

I am honest when I say that part of me wishes I could always live in this Easter Light.  I wish I could always feel this joy that I feel this morning.  But the fact is, this Light will lose its luster faster than I even want to admit.  This joy will fade too.

But I do believe that whatever heaven is—and none of us knows for certain what it will be like—I have no doubt that it is very similar this the joy we feel this morning.  I believe with all that is in me that it is very much like the experience of this Light that we are celebrating this morning—an unending Easter.  And if that is what Heaven is, then it is a joy that will not die, and it is a Light that will not fade and grow dim. And if that’s all I know of heaven, then that is enough for me.

The fact is, Easter doesn’t end when the sun sets today. Easter is what we carry within us as Christians ALL the time.  Easter is living out the Resurrection by our very presence.  We are, each of us, carrying within us this Easter Light we celebrate this morning and always.  All the time.  It is here, in our very souls, in our very bodies, in our very selves. With that Light burning within us, being reflected in what we do and say, in the love we show to God and to each other, what more can we say on this glorious, glorious morning?  What more can we say when God’s glorious, all-loving, resurrected realty breaks through to us in glorious light and transforms us;

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!



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