Acts 10:34 -43, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, John 20: 1-18
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” For they were afraid.
This is not really what we expect on Easter Sunday:
The day where we shout our “Alleluias!”
The day where we rejoice in Christ Rising from the dead.
We don’t expect the story to end so abruptly:
And we certainly don’t expect the story to end in fear.
And yet we DO expect to see Jesus ACTUALLY appearing:
Instead of this weird young guy: dressed in white.
This ending to the Easter story might make us a bit uncomfortable.
And maybe it should.
Because Resurrection isn’t all that comfortable.
It doesn’t really make sense.
And it didn’t make sense to the women who arrived at the tomb:
Early in the morning.
They were deeply grieved as the reality of Jesus’ death weighed on them.
They worried about how they would even get into the tomb:
To do the ordinary work of anointing Jesus’ body.
Things get real:
And at the same time: Absolutely UN-real.
The stone is already rolled away, the tomb already open.
And instead of a dead body, they find a young man in white.
Obviously, they were alarmed.
Everything about it is unexpected.
Where is Jesus?
Who rolled away the stone?
Who is this weird guy?
What is going on?
And then it gets even MORE unreal:
When this young person says that Jesus is not here.
He’s been raised.
And the women,
Shocked out of their minds,
Full of terror and amazement.
And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Who can blame them?
It’s actually kind of refreshing.
The story of these women allows us to stand in their place:
Even on this joyful day:
With our hopes,
As well as our doubts and our questions.
And that’s what I love about this Easter story:
So different from the others.
When Resurrection is announced to the women,
Their response is astonishment, fear, terror, and amazement.
It’s an honest and real response.
The “Alleluia” is not immediate for these women.
And that’s okay.
Because Christianity: at its very core, is located in the midst of pain, loss, and fear.
It’s a part of who we are.
It’s a part of moving about in this very human, very fragile world.
Mark, the Gospel writer, hits on this reality:
The reality of human pain, loss and fear:
And he locates that in the reality resurrection:
Because resurrection IS pretty freaky.
It goes against everything that we know about life, death, and the world.
And this is where the UNREAL of the resurrection story:
Is also humanly REAL:
The real, raw, humanity seen in these women:
Who are astonished, amazed and afraid.
And sometimes, we take this for granted.
Sometimes, the story of the resurrection seems so “normal” to us
That we are quick to jump to the Alleluia:
Without first being absolutely astonished:
Even to the point of fear.
Sometimes: We feel like we have to rush to the alleluia:
Because we think it’s what we’re supposed to do.
Or sometimes, the eggs, and the ducks, and the chicks and the bunnies:
Make us blind to the UNREAL REALITY of what is going on.
And we fail to recognize the complete awesomeness of this Easter day:
A day SO amazing:
That it sent witnesses away in fear.
A day SO filled with mystery:
SO REALLY UNREAL:
That humanity couldn’t comprehend.
A day SO incredible:
That the women said nothing to anyone.
Afraid to tell others.
Because it was just too astonishing.
Who would even believe them?
The fear of these women:
Reminds us that the good news of Christ’s resurrection is not simply reliable news:
To be taken for granted.
It is a truth so shocking that even the first people to hear it,
People who hear it on the spot where it happened,
Cannot imagine how to tell anyone else.
Mark ends his Gospel as he begins it:
The abrupt ending of fear, is a kind of opening:
An opening for the women at the tomb,
An opening for the disciples:
And an opening to all of us:
To continue the story:
The story of the “Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
This resurrection story:
With all of is human qualities of astonishment and fear:
Is an opening:
An invitation for us to tell the story:
The story of the God who BECAME The story.
The WORD made flesh.
Whose story is so incredible:
Whose Good news is so astonishing,
That we need to hear it again and again and again.
It’s why Christmas and Easter never get old.
The story is never boring.
The story is actually so astonishing,
That we need to hear it over and over.
And maybe every time we hear it,
We’ll have a little less fear:
And our Alleluia’s will get a little bit stronger.
And we’ll begin to understand a little bit more.
Mark is basically telling all of us:
Go back to the beginning,
And read again the story of Jesus:
The wonderful teacher and healer,
The one who IS the suffering,
But now IS life:
The victorious Messiah and Son of God.
Whether you’re in pain:
Or in fear:
Or in joyful exultation:
Hear the story again.
Tell the story again.
Become the story yourself.
It takes time:
Maybe even a whole lifetime:
Because we, like the women at the tomb,
Are often too afraid, or too astonished to tell it.
But as we continue:
With God’s help:
To proclaim the Good News of God in Christ:
In the best way that we can:
We will inch further and further:
With less and less fear:
Until one day,
When we like Christ:
Fear will no longer be a part of who we are:
And our Alleluia’s will burst forth for all eternity.
In the final book of C.S. Lewis’ beloved chronicles of Narnia:
Thousands of years after the death and resurrection of the Christ figure:
The Characters find themselves in the presence of God:
In the eternal heavenly Garden,
At the end of the world:
And Lucy says to the others:
“Isn’t it wonderful? Have you noticed one can’t feel afraid, even if one wants to?”
Resurrected WITH Christ:
We too: Will enter that garden.
Where there is no terror,
Where there is no fear:
And until then:
We keep hearing the story:
Reading the story:
Becoming the story:
And proclaiming and sharing it in the best way that we can.
Fr. Jim is providing his sermons online during the Corona virus pandemic. Enjoy!