04/09/23 – Easter Life – Easter Sunday

EASTER LIFE

April 9, 2023
Easter Sunday
Matthew 28:1-10
Rev. Denise Clark-Jones

 

Easter is not, particularly early this year, and the past winter has been mild. So, why don’t I have any flowers blooming in my yard? I want more signs of new life and growth. Nature, however, has its own mysterious timetable because the Creator created it that way and didn’t ask any human soul for their input into the matter. We were given the responsibility to be good stewards of the earth, but, sadly, we have been more interested in profit and convenience than caring for the wondrous balance of the land, water, plants, and creatures God designed. Whether we are talking about the physical earth or the relationships God intended us to have with one another, the signs that the world is getting to a better place for all of God’s creation seem few and far between. And I know there are even Christians who are looking at their lives today as bleak infertile landscapes. There are people everywhere who don’t believe a new life is possible at all because their gardens of love, acceptance, justice, security, and opportunity are barren. The old question is: how do we celebrate Easter in a Good Friday world? Or to put it more eloquently, as the twentieth-century preacher at the famed Riverside Church in New York City, William Sloane Coffin did:

What shall we choose: to live half alive and preserve the illusions of a Good Friday world, or live fully alive the Easter truth that Christ is risen, love never dies, not with God, not even with us, and because Christ is risen we too are risen?”

It’s finding our own resurrection in Christ that confounds us. The Good Fridays of our lives have a way of casting shadows on our Easter parades. It’s not even easy for a pastor to preach on the resurrection when she is awakened at 5 on Easter morning to be informed by a grieving husband that his 60-year-old wife has suddenly died of heart failure. I have to admit, my sermon changed after I got that call. Later in this hour we will pray for the family of Julia Mitchell Hoffman, whose resurrection is occurring beyond what we can see with our own eyes, but which we can trust because of all the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection for the past two thousand years. We can trust, not because of the empty tomb we have seen ourselves, but because of Christ’s promise we will all experience a resurrection like his. We can trust in the resurrection because of all the witnesses to the risen Christ who have experienced Christ continuing to show up in their lives to save them and shape them into the image of Christ day by day.

I am heartened today by these words by another pastor in an Easter devotional:

“When the humans I love are facing hard times, which seems to
be all the time these days, I am fond of lifting up the modern
proverb: ‘“Everything turns out alright in the end. If it’s not all
right, it’s not the end.” We will not all survive the current
apocalypse. We will not all be raised from our sickbeds or
our tombs. Some of us will lose jobs or businesses we have
spent a lifetime building. Marriages that might have made it
otherwise, absurdly pressured by chronic stress and exhaustion,
will end in divorce. But after all of these endings, there will be
new beginnings—some of them visible, tellable; others beyond
the veil of earthly death. Easter is not a history lesson with a
tidy ending, but an invitation to look past death in all its
disguises. After every death, new things get born. You may
sometimes have a year of Good Fridays, but Easter will
always arrive.” 1

The two Mary’s who expected to find Jesus’ dead body were shocked by its absence and, even more so, by the presence of a messenger from God. This angel delivered the message which has comforted and challenged Christians through the centuries: He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ And so, we continue to see Jesus, who greets us today at his table. Jesus keeps on arriving on the scene before us to lead us into new life.

We have been commissioned to be His messengers to others who are seeking resurrection. People who, like us, want to experience resurrection, even in the shadow of Good Fridays. That inexplicable event that happened that first Easter continues to happen.  The Apostle Paul summed up the simple truth of the Resurrection: “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” We are free to live truthfully, abundantly, generously, compassionately, and justly. This is the Easter life offered to us by God’s grace. Let us choose Life!

Amen. May it be so!

1.      Baskette, Molly. “This Is Not the End.” Still Speaking Devotional. United Church of Christ,     Cleveland, OH. Apr 9, 2023.

 

 

© Rev. Denise Clark-Jones, 2023, All Rights Reserved
Westminster Presbyterian Church | 1420 W. Moss Ave. | Peoria, Illinois 61606
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