Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter


March 27, 2016

John 20.1-18


+ It’s really not much of a secret. I LOVE Easter. This, to me, is what it’s all about. If anybody asks me, so what do you love most about being a Christian, I always say, Easter.

What isn’t there to love? That holy moment—that moment when everything changed—when God raised Jesus from the tomb was the essential moment.  The Jesus who appears to us on this Easter morning is not a ghost. He is not a figment of our imagination. He is not an illusion. And this story isn’t a fairy tale.

Every so often, someone will come up to me and ask that age-old question: “Do you really believe in the Resurrection? Do really you believe that God raised Jesus from the grave?”

And my answer is always this: “Why not?”

Why couldn’t God do this? And if we look long and hard at what happened on that Easter morning, we realize that what happened there was more than just some vague experience for some ancient people. What happened to Jesus happened to us as well.

Everything since that point has been broken open for us. Our old fear of death and dying—that’s all gone. Because now we know that what we once held to be a mystery, is no longer a mystery.

What happens to us when we die? We know now, because Jesus has been there already. Jesus has gone there and by going there has defeated death.  What seemed to be the end—the bleak and horrible end on Good Friday afternoon—has been broken apart. And what we are faced with is life. Life that never ends.

Now, when people ask me if I believe in the Resurrection, I say that I do, but I usually leave it there. Anything beyond my belief that it happened—and that it will happen for us—is beyond me. I don’t understand it fully. I still find bits and pieces of it being revealed to me. I find on bad days or skeptical days that I’m, not certain I believe in it.

But what I have discovered is that, mostly, I find one deep, strong emotion coming forth in me when I ponder the Resurrection. And that emotion is: joy.

In our Gospel reading for today, we find joy. Joy comes to Mary Magdalene when she realizes that it is Jesus, resurrected, standing before her. We can almost feel that joy emanating from her as she proclaims to the others: “I have seen the Lord.”

Joy is an emotion we seem to overlook. We think, maybe of joy as some kind of warm, fuzzy feeling. But joy is more than just feeling warm and fuzzy. Joy is a confident emotion. It is an emotion we can’t manufacture. We can’t make joy happen within us. Joy comes to us and comes upon us and bubbles up within us. Joy happens when everything comes together and we know that all is good.

This morning we are feeling joy over the Resurrection—over the fact that today we celebrate the destruction of everlasting death. See why I like Easter so much.  Easter is what it’s all about to be a Christian.  What I talk about when I talk about Easter is that fact that today is truly the embodiment of the joy we should all feel as Christians.

Today is a day of joy.  Today, we are all filled with joy at the resurrection and the fact that the resurrection will happen to us too.  This is a joy that sustains us and lifts us up when we need lifting up. It is a joy that causes us to see what others cannot see.

The Resurrection reminds us that God dwells with us. God dwells within us. Each of us, no matter who we are. And to see God, all we have to do is look around and see God in the faces of those around us.

See, Easter is about the Resurrection of Jesus, but it’s also about us as well.  That Resurrection is our Resurrection too. What happened to Jesus will happen to us as well.  Why? Because God loves us. God loves us just for who and what we are. God loves us, just as God loved Jesus.  And just as God raised Jesus up on that first Easter day, God will raise us up as well.  No matter who we are. All of us, fully loved and fully accepted by our God, will be raised up, just as Jesus is raised today.

By doing so, we no longer have to fear things like death.  By raising Jesus up, God destroyed our fears of an uncertain future. By raising Jesus up, God brought victory to all of our defeats and failures.

See, there is a reason for real joy on this Easter morning. In fact, it is joy that dwells with us and among us as we gather here.

Joy.

So, on this Easter morning, let this joy we feel at this moment not be a fleeting emotion. Rather, let it live in us and grow in us. Let it provoke us and motivate us. Let it flow forth from us. And when you live into this joy—when you let this joy fully consume you—every day with be Easter day to you.

Every day will be a day of resurrection. Every day will be a day of renewed life.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed!

Alleluia!






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