We all know the story, right? We all came here today to hear it again.
It’s not complicated, as stories go, There’s not a lot of sub-plot or irony or hidden meaning.
Some women come to a graveyard and discover an empty tomb and a Being of Light tells them the One they came seeking, to anoint, as was the practice in their culture, is not dead but alive. And the women go, astonished and fearful, to tell the others in their community.
“Alleluia, Christ is Risen. The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!”
The end. That’s about it.
So we can all go home and eat ham and deviled eggs and hot cross buns and lots of chocolate and be satisfied that Easter has come and gone one more time.
The “story” is about Jesus—isn’t it? He died and God made him alive again. The preacher can stop there. Case closed. Time for summer and getting ready for Christmas….
Unless, of course, the story is about US as well as Jesus—that would be another matter and require a little more talking.
What if…just, ‘what if’, for the sake of argument, the story is about US as well as Jesus?
What if…just to make my sermon a little longer, we all have a role—several roles—to play in the whole Drama?
It starts with that rag-tag army that followed Jesus during his life—those folks ‘hoping for something better’, ‘imagining that life really meant something’, putting their bet on a dark horse itinerant preacher from Nazareth, leaning into his love?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often had that feeling welling up inside my heart—that feeling that there must be ‘something’…something bigger and more lovely and greater than the day-to-day grind of life. I’ve often longed for something grand and precious and holy. So I could have been one of those who followed him around, hanging on his words, marveling at his power and miracles, thinking this might just be the one to put my money on…Love.
And in the last week of his life, they all left him, disappointed and estranged, feeling like they’d been conned, misguided, wrong.
And I’ve felt that—I don’t know about you—but I’ve felt like I put my money on the wrong horse, that I’d been misguided and deceived, and all my hope has been dashed on the cruel realities of life, that Love conquers nothing.
Then there is Peter, who denied him after promising to leave him never. When my hopes have been thwarted, I’ve denied having them at all—my momma didn’t raise any fools.
And there is Pilate—who knew what was right but didn’t do ‘the right thing’ because of pressures from others. How often have I kept silent when my voice was called for? How often have I ‘held back’ when courage was needed? How often have I accepted a lie because I wasn’t brave enough to stand for the truth?
Judas too—what if the story isn’t about Judas at all, but about ME, perhaps even YOU? I know I have ‘betrayed’ others for much less than 30 pieces of silver—and I have ‘betrayed’ myself over and again through my disappointments and fears and self-serving motives.
But I am like the women—like Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James—as well. I have found it within myself to be ‘faithful’, to be ‘loyal’, to be ‘true’. I have gone to the graveyard out of love, in spite of my fears, because it was the right thing to do. I have carried the spices with me to anoint the deaths of my life—and you have too.
And we have been surprised by Wonder in our lives—we have found Love and Life in Dead Places, we have met Being of Light, we have encountered Angels.
Likewise, I have been like the Apostles, hiding behind locked doors, fearful and mournful, even as the power of Love came to me. And I have had to struggle with whether or not to ‘give up my life’ in order to ‘find Life in Abundance….’ I know that feeling and I bet you do to.
I bet you know—if you are centered enough and open enough—I bet you know that part of you that is like the crowds—engaged and then disappointed—like Peter…denying…like Judas…betraying…like Pilate, not speaking out for truth…like the women, confounded by Joy…like the disciples, hidden but called out by Love to dance and sing and rejoice.
So, Jesus is Risen and that can be enough for us this day.
Or, we can find in this celebration, in this liturgy, in this story…the possibility of our own WHOLENESS, our own TRANSFORMATION, our own RESURRECTION to a life that welcomes all the ‘parts’ of each one of us—that welcomes each of us, just as we are, to something new and beautiful and unexpected and loving. Easter calls us from our tombs of longing and doubt and anxiety and cowardice and betrayal and denial into a ‘new life’ of WHOLENESS AND HOPE AND LOVE.
My prayer for me and for you is this: that today we may make our song this and only this—ALLELUIA, WE ARE RISEN! WE ARE RISEN, INDEED! ALLELUIA!
God’s Love can be the music of our song….