Sermons

Romans 6:3—11;  Matthew 28:1—10

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

The lead character in one of my favorite musicals, Violet, is a young woman who, in her childhood was involved in an accident which left a large and long scar across her face.  In the story, based on the novel, “The Ugliest Pilgrim”, Violet sets off in search of a preacher/healer who promises her, through her television set, that she can be healed of her scar with the right amount of faith.

Eventually, after a long bus ride through several states, Violet finds the preacher/healer, only to discover he is not all he promised he would be.

Violet demands a healing from the God who promised to be faithful to her, if she only believed.

After a stirring petition to God and an experience of God’s response, Violet believes herself to be healed of her scar.  She returns to the bus to show the people she had met her new face, now cleared of the mark of that tragic accident so long ago.

As she steps off the bus, she is beaming, she is confident, her head is up, her hair is now pulled back after serving for a decade as a defensive barrier between her and the world.

The first evidence she hears of her healing is that it didn’t’ happen at all.  “I told you that preacher man was no good.”  Violet is crushed, devastated, her faith in God shattered.

It isn’t until someone points out to Violet that in the short time between thinking she had been healed and discovering she didn’t receive the healing she thought, she was a different person.  If only you could have seen yourself, when you came off the bus, one character says.  In that moment, Violet was living a life she thought impossible – the life she longed to live.  It turned out she didn’t need the preacher man.  She didn’t need a cure.  What she needed was resurrection.  A new life born out of old scars.

For most of my life, I have thought of Easter as the end of Lent.  After a long five-plus weeks of wandering in the wilderness, all that has ended in this triumphant celebration of Alleluias. 

But what our scripture this morning teaches us, is that Easter is not the end of a season gone by; it is the start of a season just beginning. 

Easter is an invitation to participate in our own resurrection, following the example of Love in human form, Jesus the Christ.

If we woke up this morning expecting God to have delivered a miracle on our doorstep, like the Easter bunny with our favorite candy, chances are we were sorely disappointed.  The headlines of the news and the hardships of our lives don’t disappear magically.  The pain and the challenges, they are still there, the things in the world which terrify us; they are still there. 

We don’t gather here on this glorious morning to pretend everything is perfect in the world.  We gather here this morning to declare that what causes us pain, what has hurt us, what has left us feeling defeated and overcome need no longer define us. 

The victory we claim in Christ’s resurrection isn’t a victory that means hard, painful things won’t happen to us.  The victory we claim is that when things are hard, we are never alone in the hardship.  Our God is a God who, through the cross, knows what we know, has felt what we felt, has gone to the darkest corners of the human experience and, on the third day claimed Love the final word.  Today we declare the truth that nothing can separate us from the Love of God and that our transformations, our resurrections are as possible as the bulbs that are blooming in the yard.  Our resurrections, our new lives are as possible as the warm sun that greeted us this morning.

It is tempting to want God to wave some magic wand and make the scars on our world and the scars on our hearts disappear.  I imagine that, even as they were amazed at his resurrection, Jesus’ disciples desperately wanted him to be among them again like he had always been; teaching in the temple, breaking bread in the living room, healing them by the roadside.

But, in order to receive the Good News that Jesus was among them again, they had to accept the reality that he was gone forever as well.  Jesus’ life with them did not end, but it did change.  It changed so that we, you and I, have every bit the same access to the Loving presence of God in our lives as those first disciples had in theirs. 

Like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary from today’s Gospel, we are beckoned to look at where our deepest pains lie and see that, through the power of God’s grace and love, the tombs where those pains and scars once were are now empty.  They are empty. 

This morning we celebrate that, like the character Violet, and even like the risen Jesus, we, too, carry our scars with us, but they need not define us.  Our scars need not define us, for new life is always possible.  The scars of the world need not define the world, for new hope is always possible. 

Easter may not make the hard things in life go away, but resurrection can give us a way of living through the hard things in life. 

At the end of the Gospel story, Jesus tells the women, our first apostles, to go into Galilee and tell the others Jesus is on his way. 

He won’t be coming like he used to, but he will be coming.

This morning, Jesus calls us to go ahead into our own Galilees, to go into our lives and watch with expectant eyes and hopeful hearts for where and when and how the unstoppable Love of God will show up, breathing new life into our empty tombs.

Easter is not the end of a season gone by; it is the start of a season just beginning.  Let us begin!

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

© 2017 The Reverend Jeffrey W. Mello

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