Easter Sunday 2019
We were happy to welcome Revd Kristine Johnson to preach and to lead us in our Eucharistic service on Easter Sunday.
Here is the text of Kristine's sermon:
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
This is our cry on Easter morning. We rejoice that death has no dominion over us, because God has the power to bring new life, even from the tomb. Jesus was raised from the dead. God’s promises are true.
We hear throughout scripture the promises of God. This morning we read from the prophet Isaiah: “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth... be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight....no more shall the sound of weeping be heard, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime…They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit…The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox…They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.”
This is God’s dream for creation, the dream that God is even now building. A dream beyond our imagining, where each has enough and peace reigns forever. Sometimes, though, it is hard to see. Turn on the TV or listen to the radio, and the news you will see is usually bad. Burning cathedrals, natural disasters, terror and war. In our own lives, we face struggles and heartbreak. We have seen Jesus crucified and laid in the tomb.
It is good news for us, I think, that just as the disciples were grief-stricken and heartbroken at Jesus’ death, they also were perplexed after his resurrection. Although Jesus had told his followers what would happen, it was so far outside their understanding of reality that when it happened it didn’t make sense. And even when, in the coming days, they began to really believe it, they must have realized that although their world had utterly changed in those last days, the world had not. They looked around at the poor, the broken, and the oppressed, and they saw that
Jesus’ resurrection was not the end of suffering. It was not a magic trick that brought about the new creation in one fell swoop. We can identify with that, right?
But because they had known Jesus, they knew what God’s kingdom looked like, and because they believed in his resurrection, they knew that he was with them as they continued to work to build up that kingdom in the midst of this world. Did they get discouraged? I’m sure they did. But Jesus had taught them well. Gather together in my name, and I am with you. Remember what I taught you. You have power to love, power to do good, power to bring about change in people’s hearts and lives.
Their habits – of meeting together, of telling the stories of the faith, of sharing the bread and wine in remembrance – are the traditions we keep today. We need them as much as the first disciples did.
Because we, like all the stubborn people of God who have come before us, too often spend time fretting about the ways in which the world falls short of God’s dream. We spend too much time staring at the tomb. At our own failures and disappointments, and at the weight of evil on the world.
That first Easter morning, after she told the others that Jesus’ body was gone, Mary Magdalene stayed at the empty tomb, weeping, trying to understand. She looked in again and saw two angels where Jesus’ body had been. They asked her why she was weeping, and she said, “they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they laid him.” Then she turned around, and saw Jesus. But he didn’t look like Jesus. He asked her why she was weeping, who she was looking for. And she begged him to tell her where they had taken Jesus’ body. And then Jesus called her by name. “Mary.” And she recognized him. “Teacher.”
When we stand in the various tombs of our lives and realize that what is past is dead, we are grief-stricken. We may be confused and wonder where what we have loved has gone. It is then that we need to turn around and look outside the tomb.
Because there is nothing in the tomb for us. It is the past. Resurrection waits for us outside the tomb. That is where the future is. God is at work in the world, and is inviting us to join in.
Jesus is calling us by name, as he called to Mary. Look around. Recognize the hand of the creator at work in the world. In the blooming flowers and budding trees, in the songs of birds and buzzing of bees, in smiles exchanged across a room, or meals shared over a table. In the warm memories of those who have gone before, and budding hope for what comes after. Wherever you see love and compassion and hope, Jesus is there.
He is here, in the bread and the wine.
He is here, in this gathering.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!