April 12, 2009 Easter Day (RCL B) Mark 16: 1-8
O sons and daughters, let us sing! The King of heaven, the glorious King, o’er death and hell rose triumphing. Alleluia!
Christ Risen from the Tomb,
Bergognone, c. 1493
Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Alleluia.
On this day, in the midst of abundant blessing and grace and love and new life, we would be gathered always one family, in the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
This morning, may I first simply say to you a word of deep and sincere friendship and appreciation, as we are gathered from far and near in this holy place. Grace and peace to you. And joy. May this Easter be for you and for all of us the first morning of our lives, and a new morning. Music and sunshine and all goodness.
May the tender compassion of our God rest around you, around us all. In this Church, in our families and among those we love, in our city and our world, torn apart as it is, in all its hurt. His death on the Cross completed his great work, and that Cross now is a radiant threshold, a flowering doorway through which we pass to life and resurrection.
I bind unto myself today: his death on Cross, for my salvation.
Here then for us is the healing of our brokenness, the forgiveness of our sins. The great dawn of the new creation of the world.
Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, to bring light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
There is so much mysterious about that early morning. We follow the three women as they make their way through the city and out to the place of his burial. We study the scene, listen carefully. Across all these centuries. No story has ever mattered more. Our lives depend on it. We feel with them the anxiety of the hour. What is going to happen? How is this going to work? Who—who is going to roll away the stone?
And we peer with them into the dark recesses of that holy Tomb, the earthy air filling our senses, so that we can almost taste it. And there is that young man, dressed in his white robe. His angelic presence catching us off-guard. No matter how many times we hear the story. And these words, “He has risen, he is not here.”
And we are turned inside-out, fear and amazement, disorientation, reorientation. The world turned upside down, shaken. But then, somehow, as we catch our breath, it is put right again. It is made perfect, as we have never known it to be before. “He has risen. He is not here.”
And there is more to the story, as we heard from St. Paul and as we read at greater length in the accounts of the other evangelists. Encounters in the Garden, in the Upper Room, along the road out of town, by the lake, at the mountaintop. More to the story, as this Easter recalibrates the universe, brings us to a new center. Until, as Paul says in First Corinthians, finally, finally, he appears to me. To us.
And so, as in the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. It is the first morning of the world. Easter, Easter, Easter.
O sons and daughters, let us sing . . . let us sing . . . let us sing.
The world is a mess, the Church is a mess, God love us, and we are a mess, top to bottom and inside out, at least as we are brave enough to look into the mirror with honesty.
But here, Easter, we pass from death to life. Here, Easter, we come to take refreshment at heaven’s table. Dead unto sin, alive unto God.
May this morning be for us in the richness of blessing a morning of commitment and recommitment, a renewal of loyalty, that we would trust him and follow him. Jesus. The first, the last. He reaches out his hand for us to lift us up, and this is the day, Lord Jesus, when I will take your hand, open my heart to you, walk in your way.
Easter triumph, Easter joy. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Alleluia.