Sermon for Easter

Sermon for Easter Day, year B

The Very Rev. Andy Jones

April 8, 2012

The sermon draws on the alternate Gospel reading for Easter Day, year B in the Revised Common Lectionary Cycle.

You can find that reading here.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

All over the world, in places much like this one, people are gathering to hear those words proclaimed!

That Jesus of Nazareth, who preached and taught that the Kingdom of God has come near, that we can experience that kingdom here and now…

Who preached and taught that the Kingdom of God is for all people, for the people on the fringes of society, for the people who have been overlooked by those in power,  for the people who had been thought to be less than acceptable, disposable…

Who preached and taught that the Kingdom of God is for sinners, even sinners like us!

That Jesus of Nazareth, who taught that those who believe in him might experience eternal life in the presence of God.

All over the world, in places much like this one, people are gathering to hear that Jesus of Nazareth who was dead, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, who suffered death and was buried, who descended to the dead… Is Alive!  That he has been raised from the dead!  That he is still among us!  He has not abandoned us!

All over the world in places much like this one, people are gathering to hear and proclaim:

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

And with these words the things that Jesus taught us, the things that he said and showed us, take on a new import and meaning.  Words that might have been lost to history, or if not lost, consigned to the pages of dusty tomes in the stacks of obscure libraries have become central to the way that we seek to live our lives.  They have become the center of a faith that has changed the world.  We have placed our trust in them and they have become our Truth, our Faith, our Life.

With those words we have been set free.  With our hope set in Christ’s resurrection we know that we will not die forever.  We will not be annihilated.  There is life beyond what we can see and touch, what we can smell and taste, what we can feel and experience here and now and that life has been promised to us by the one whose resurrected life we celebrate today.

We are set free to live our lives boldly in His name.  We are set free to teach and to proclaim the vision of the Kingdom that He has shown us.  We are set free to challenge injustice wherever we encounter it, to lift up the poor and lowly, to defend the widow and orphan, and to work to bring the kingdom that He described to fruition here and now.

With those words we are set free to risk ourselves for one another with the assurance that we will always be fully embraced and loved by the God in whom we long to live and move and have our being!

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

All over the world today become are gathering to hear and to proclaim those words.  I wonder…  are we here today to hear?  or to proclaim?

The women who went to Jesus’ tomb that morning were certainly there to hear.  It must have been awfully dark that morning.  I know that Mark tells us that they went in the morning when the sun had risen but I am sure that for them, the world was very dark.  They had lost their teacher, their Rabbi.  The person around whom they had built their lives had been taken from them, beaten, humiliated, and hung on a cross to die.  Try to put yourself in their sandals.  It is hard to imagine a darker place.  As they walked to the tomb they had nothing to proclaim but their grief and loss.  I am sure that they would have told you that the world, life, even God had treated them very badly.  Can you imagine anyone who needed to hear our Easter Proclamation more than they did?

Sometimes we arrive at the tomb filled with assurance; a clear and abiding sense of God’s love and presence, “convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).  And so we stand outside the entrance of the tomb and cry to anyone who passes by that Christ is risen.  Sometimes we even dare to enter the tomb, of our own volition, where we proclaim with joy that he is risen indeed!

Other times we arrive at the tomb like, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, compelled, against our will, forced into the darkness by events outside of our own control.  Sometimes we arrive at the tomb unable to say the words ourselves, needing more than anything to hear someone else say them in a way that will invite us into the light where we just might be able to breathe once again…

“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him” (Mark 16:6).

The tomb is still empty and he is still out there waiting for us, just beyond the horizon.  Just beyond the limit of our ability to see right now.  Don’t be afraid.

 “…he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16: 7).

All over the world today people are gathering to hear and proclaim these words.  And it should be clear at this moment that it isn’t just the words that are important.  The gathering is important too.  Being called out of the darkness can be a terrifying thing.  It can fill us with amazement and awe that might, in the absence of companions to help us make sense of it all, leave us mute and afraid.  It can also be a scary thing to stand in a world that sees no justification or rationale for the bold claims we make about the kingdom of God.  About its call for justice, dignity, and respect for even the least among us.  And for our need to proclaim the good news of God in Christ.  It can be terrifying to contemplate risking our selves and what we have to speak up for those who do not have the voice to speak for themselves.

We need one another here in this place, in the tomb where the darkness is overcome by the light.  We all need to be here together, those who need to hear and those who need to proclaim, the broken and the healed, the fallen and the lifted up, because it is all of our voices, joined as one, that represent the Body of Christ, left to die upon the cross, and yet alive, living amongst us, as one of us, now and forever as we proclaim;

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

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