The 11 a.m. Service, St. Andrew's Church
The Rev. Dr. Bruce M. Robison, Rector
Good Friends: Grace and peace to you, blessings, joy, all the richness of God’s favor, on this first morning of the world.
Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ, shall all be made alive. The Apostle Paul, First Corinthians 15.
And so, Easter blessings, and in abundance. And the ancient Greek greeting of the first Christians on this day we make fresh and new and our own. “Christos anesti.” Christ is risen. And the reply, “Alithos anesti.” He is risen indeed. I always like for us to get into the mood with that. So let’s repeat it together . . . .
It is all celebration. Christ triumphant. Reigning. King of kings and Lord of lords. Those distant Christmas Eve angel choruses now ringing across the universe and all creation, alive with trumpet and song.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. That’s from the vision and Revelation of St. John the Divine, in his fifth chapter.
And Isaiah saw it too, and gave the news, as we heard Heather read it this morning. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
As we read in the Epistle for Christmas Eve, from the first chapter of Hebrews: In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. The Word of the Cross.
We see it every Sunday from the twelfth chapter of St. John inscribed on the great Rood Beam above us here. And I when I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me. And so, the Lord has spoken. The Word of the Cross.
Again Isaiah: It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. All flowing together: ancient prophecy and eternal truth. Christ triumphant. King of kings, Lord of lords. Christos anesti. Alithos anesti.
Someone in my wide Facebook world posted the other day, I think in the same frame of mind as those who sometimes say they are “spiritual, but not religious,” that he believed “in resurrection,” but not “in THE resurrection.” I didn’t follow up too far to find out what he meant exactly. Probably should have. But we would in any event recall with clarity this morning that to whatever extent there is something to believe in called “resurrection,” it is only to be found and to come to life and to have a reality because of “THE resurrection.” What the word is today. What we have heard and what we proclaim.
So Paul in Romans 8: If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, year rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Not—I don’t know-- a symbol or metaphor: but first this. That in Christ Jesus God humbled himself. In Christ Jesus, dead on that Cross. On that particular day, that particular afternoon, in that one particular place. That as he suffered there and died there he took on himself all the pain and brokenness of the story of every one of our lives. In those three hours, he looked upon every face, every life. Yours and mine. And made us his own. Mercy. Grace. Healing. Forgiveness.
How could that be? And yet it was. A miracle and a gift beyond our comprehension. Sin and death. Every lie, every theft, every murder. Every betrayal. Every loss. Every sorrow. From the foundation of the world and from one end of time to the other. And ours too. Ours especially, yours and mine. That we would know that personally this morning. He knowing and taking upon himself the secrets of our own hearts. The weight of all of that. Every tear, every regret. Every unfaithful act. With him and in him on the Cross. And then dead and buried.
And then that on that Sunday morning he was alive again. And not just alive the way he was alive before, but even more alive. Not a shadow of his former self, but more real than ever. More real than any reality that had been known since the creation of the world itself. And they saw it with their own eyes. They touched him, spoke with him. And it was real, and true and full of power for them. Full of power. And it is real and true and full of power for us.
This is why he was and why he is Emmanuel. God with us. And the words of the Angel, so long ago to Mary. As in that lovely transept window here. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
All Easter. By him, with him, in him. For us. All Easter. Christos anesti. Alithos anesti.
We have a long way to go, of course. Our own roads to travel. Even more mistakes to make, and some of them will be heartbreaking and horrible, no question. So the history of the world and the story of our lives. Weaving new thorns for his brow.
But even in this time it is Easter, and one who is not against us, but who is for us from before time and forever, he is on the throne now. A promise that is being made real right in our midst. Above us, behind us, before us. With us. His is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. All the Easter hymns ever written aren’t enough to say it all.
And even with such a long way to go, we know that as we come to him he lifts us up, and that the end of the story is all Easter: his life and his love and a new life and a new world of life that we can only see now in glimpses. The victory banquet that we share by his grace. The bread of heaven, the cup of salvation.
Blessings on this day, Christian people, friends. Easter morning. Christ is risen indeed. Christos anesti. Alithos anesti. Say it with me. Amen.