April 4, 2021
+ 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!