April 8, 2007 Easter Day (C)
O sons and daughters, let us sing! The King of heaven, the glorious King, o’er death and hell rose triumphing, alleluia.
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all be made alive.
Our Associate Priest Carol has at least a half a dozen times over the past couple of weeks, and maybe more often than that, told me that she hoped we would include the great ancient Easter acclamation and greeting on this holy day, and so I would ask her to address us all now with that acclamation: Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.
Or in the Greek--as our brothers and sisters in the Churches of the East continue to greet one another on this day with the same words that St. Paul would have used when greeting his friends in the congregation at Corinth at the very dawn of the Christian era. Christos anesti. "Christ is risen." And the reply, "He is risen indeed"-- Alithos anesti!
It is wonderful, and indeed a great privilege to greet you and welcome you on this holy day in the name of our risen Lord and Savior. This Easter weekend has just a touch of the last hint of winter in it, I know, but in our lives, in our minds and hearts, for this day and for every day, it is Easter in every good way, and there is the bright morning of life and hope, the fulfillment of the ancient prophesy of Isaiah, here and now, here and now: “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.”
There are of course great waves and oceans of thoughts and feelings and experiences around us today. Wondering at the miracle, which despite two thousand years of storytelling is as amazing and confusing and breathtaking to us as it was to the women who first found on that first morning that the stone had been rolled away. Wondering at the miracle. How can it be true? And if it is true, what can it mean? What can it mean for me, for all of us, in this real world that I live in? This world of conflict and confusion, brokenness, this great vortex of entropy, swirling down relentlessly to the sad silence of the grave. If it is true, what does it mean?
There is the old joke—I guess it’s a joke. The news is, “Jesus is risen from the dead!” And the reply is, “isn’t he the lucky one!”
The news is, that the stone was rolled away when the women got there. And the body of Jesus was gone. Not because it had been stolen, but because in the first moments of that Sunday morning God acted in a new way, entered into this world of ours in a new way, and broke the power of death, and there was transformation, and new creation, and heaven came down to earth, and earth was lifted up to heaven.
And Jesus rose from the dead. Not brought back to life the way a person clinically dead is resuscitated in the emergency room by a spark from those electrical paddles, but lifted into the fullness of the new life that God intends for all of us. Changed, completed. The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Revealing to us what is our destiny. And love’s redeeming work was done, is done, will be done, in Jesus, in us. God acting in Christ, for us, once for all.
“Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.”
“I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
So what there is to say, this first morning of the world, as we greet one another in his name? The stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Christ is risen from the dead. And that changes everything. Absolutely everything. Not just for him. For us--for all of us. Because it means that love wins, love conquers all.
How you or I translate that into action day by day—well, there are a million stories to tell about it, a hundred million, more than we can count, some to be on the front page of the newspaper and in the history books and some written in the small corners of the far edges of our world. But all of them part of the same story. Healing, reconciliation, forgiveness. Life. Even life beyond the grave, life forever in Christ Jesus, in him who was and is and is to come, eternally begotten of the Father, our companion and our friend. We’ll go out this afternoon and write more stories, day by day.
The bread is broken at the Holy Table, the wine is poured out, and the heavenly banquet has begun. It’s true. And you can bet your life on it. You can. “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth.”
Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.