April 18, 2021
And most of you know about my weird obsession with Casper the Friendly Ghost
(Remember how I once wanted to get a tattoo of him on my arm?)
Call me Father Ghostbuster!
Let us pray.
And most of you know about my weird obsession with Casper the Friendly Ghost
Let us pray.
+ If you know me for any period of time, one of the many weird things you will hear me talk about is my affection toward atheists.
And I’m not talking about it in some negative way.
But I stand firmly on this topic.
I’ll be honest.
What disturbs me about atheist theology isn’t its (often rightful) anger toward Christianity and organized religion, its rebellion, its single-mindedness about how wrong religion is.
What disturbs me about atheism is how simple it is—how beautifully uncomplicated it is.
Tomorrow will be the 60th anniversary of amazing event.
On April 12, 1961, Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.
Soviet propaganda at the time proclaimed that the first words from Gagarin from space were, “I see no God up here.”
There’s even a famous poster showing Gagarin floating above the spires of the
The fact is, this was proved to be wrong.
Gagarin never said it.
In fact, there are stories abounding that Gagarin was actually a secret Orthodox Christians (If you want to google it, you find yourself going down some interesting rabbit holes).
But, let’s face it—it’s just so easy to not see God anywhere.
It’s easy to look up into the sky and say, I see no God.
It’s easy to believe that science has the only answers and that everything is provable and rational.
(And just to be clear, I am fully 100% pro-science, by the way)
I almost—ALMOST—envy atheists.
And when I hear any of my many atheist friends state their disbelief in the white-bearded male god who sits on a throne in heaven, I realize: if that is what they don’t believe in, then…I guess I’m also an atheist.
In fact, any God that I can observe by looking at in the sky, or into the cosmos is definitely a God in which I don’t believe.
I don’t want a God so easily provable, so easily observed and examined and quantified and…materially real.
I don’t believe in a God that is so made in our image.
I don’t believe in a God that is simply a projection of our own image and self.
Who would want that God?
We might as well go back and start worshipping the pantheon of pagan gods our ancestors worshipped.
We might as well start worshipping trees and rocks again.
It’s actually so easy to say there’s no God.
It is easy to say that we live in some random existence—without purpose or meaning.
And let me tell you, I also have major issues with the prevalent form of Christianity we see in this county and in the world right now.
I think many of here—or who are watching this morning—feel the same way.
Many of us have been hurt and abused by the bastardized version of Christianity that is now being promoted as the ONLY form of Christianity that is “valid.”
And I guess that’s why I’m kind of envious of atheists.
That’s why I jokingly say: “there but for the grace of the God in which they don’t believe go I.”
For us, however, as Christians, it isn’t as easy.
Being a Christian is actually quite hard.
I hate to break that news to you.
Believing is actually hard.
Yes, we do believe in the existence of God.
And we believe in a very physical representation of God in the person of Jesus.
We are now in the season of Easter—a season in which we celebrate and live into the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus,
But that event is based on some incredible evidence.
We are believing what a group of pre-Enlightenment, Pre-rational, Jewish people from what was considered at the time to be a backwater country are telling us they saw.
But we believe because we know, in our hearts, that this is somehow true.
We know these things really did happen and that because they did, life is different—life is better, despite everything that happens
We believe these things in true faith.
We didn’t see Jesus while he was alive and walking about.
We didn’t see him after he rose from the tomb.
We don’t get the opportunities that Thomas had in this morning’s Gospel.
Doubting Thomas, as we’ve come to know him, refused to believe that Jesus was resurrected until he had put his fingers in the wounds of Jesus.
It wasn’t enough that Jesus actually appeared to him in the flesh—how many of us would only jump at that chance?
For Thomas, Jesus stood there before him, in the flesh—wounds and all.
And only when he had placed his finger in the wounds, would he believe.
It’s interesting to see and it’s interesting to hear this story of Doubting Thomas.
But, the fact is, for the rest of us, we don’t get it so easy.
Jesus is probably not going to appear before us—in the flesh.
At least, not on this side of the Veil—not while we are still alive.
And if he does, you need to have a little talk with your priest.
+ Last year, all through Lent as we were going through those ugly, terrible first days of the pandemic, I looked forward to Easter with a sense of real hope.
But…I have to say, I was disappointed.
Last Easter, coming as it did in the midst of some of the darkest, most uncertain days of the pandemic, was a miserable, bleak Easter.
Those words—“miserable” and “bleak”—should never been used in the same sentence as the word “Easter.”
But it was a sad and bleak Easter last year.
Last Easter, we had nine people in church—our Senior Warden Jean and Junior Warden Jessica, our soon-to-be-Deacon John, our organist James, our cantor Michelle, Paul Sando who was manning the camera, Katie Sando and Kristofer Sando, and myself.
We livestreamed that Easter Mass the best we could because everyone else was home safe and quarantined.
It was difficult Easter to say the least
But. . . here we are! One year later.
And it is a new year.
Last Sunday, on Palm Sunday, I felt, for the first time in over a year, real hope that we were coming to the end of this long, terrible time.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday when we had a good number of people in church.
Today, we are truly hopeful.
Today, definitely makes up for last Easter.
Today, this is what it is all about.
Hope and light and a feeling of real renewal.
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.
Easter, after all, is all about life.
A life that does not end.
It is about the dawn that comes after a very long night.
And it is about our response to that life.
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 multiple times over the year.
Certainly every Sunday we celebrate a mini-Easter.
And every funeral is also a celebration of Resurrection and all that Easter represents.
And why shouldn’t we celebrate it beyond this season?
When we celebrate Easter, we are celebrating life.
The truly wonderful Christian writer, Rob Bell, once 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.
These alleluias are for now, as well as for later.
We are essentially saying, Praise God for the life unending that God has given us!
These alleluias, these joyful sounds we make, this Light we celebrate, is a Light that shines rightnow—in this moment.
We are alive now!
We have made it through a dark and terrible time.
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 are 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 died and was buried in a tomb and is now…alive.
That God raised Jesus from the darkness of death, and he 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.
Experiencing this—in the present tense.
We are already living, by our very lives, faith in God and our faith in in the eternal, unending, glorious life that God shows in the resurrection of Jesus.
We will live because God raised Jesus to life.
Now as wonderful as this all seems, the fact is, 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 have all made it through a very hard year together.
We know what sickness and dear are.
We know what suffering and pain are.
Most of us here this morning have had our share of 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.
Illness and death are not eternal.
Pandemics are not eternal.
Covid is not eternal.
None of those things will 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 bottle 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.
Easter is here!
It is here, in our very souls, in our very bodies, in our very selves.
With that Easter 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;
So, what do we say?
We say, Alleluia!
Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!