Tom's Sermon: April 24, 2011
A Reason for Allelulias
Easter is the reason why fifty three years ago I left my Engineering studies, and began preparing for -- what so far has been – 48 years of ordained ministry. It is Easter that moves one’s perspective on life from what lies between the cradle and the grave to the perspective of eternity. It is Easter that lifts one from the toil and routine of daily living to see vital relationship between creator and creature and between all things created. We are reminded of the delicate balance that can so easily be broken including the universe itself when we become self-centred and turn against the creative source of all things that we call, God.
The days leading up to Easter remind us of that brokenness and the cost of what happens when we ignore what God is saying to us in so many ways. We don’t like things that make it obvious how far short of the mark we fall. Our reaction is to silence whoever and whatever it is that unmasks our shortcoming and failures. That is true of governments, of corporations, of children on a playground, of you and me. Rather than look at how we must change, we pick up our hammers and drive another nail through God’s hands and we continue to nail Christ to the cross.
We don’t understand the cross. We don’t know why good people suffer. We don’t know why there is pain and injustice in the world. We don’t know why we can feel so God forsaken when the world seems to come crashing down upon us. Even Jesus on the cross cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” The cross teaches us that God is suffering with us, is suffering whenever the least of beings and creatures are being hurt or abused. In the end, Jesus knew God’s presence and committed himself into God’s hands.
Then Easter morning arrived. The gospel accounts differ in the details. People, like Mary Magdalene in this morning’s gospel lesson, did not even recognize him until he spoke, and then he told her not to touch him. Luke reports two men walking with him to Emmaus and not recognizing him until they broke break together. Paul encountered him as a voice on the road to Damascus. It does not matter if details are fuzzy. What is important is that the followers of Christ came to realize that Jesus still lived, and that we too will live an existence with God beyond death.
Knowing these things has allowed me to sit with someone wracked with pain asking “Why?” It allows me to offer the assurance of hope to those who have lost a child, or a life-long mate. It has allowed me to offer hope to a family whose 19 year old daughter’s body was found tied to a tree, raped, murdered after three weeks of searching. It is what allows me to offer hope to someone in the burn unit after months of skin grafts trying to restore his face, hands and arms.
Easter is the Alleluiah story that sets all of these things against the backdrop of eternity and of God’s unbounded, eternal love for each and every one of us. The cross reminds us that God is suffering when we suffer. Easter reminds us that Christ lives, so we live now and beyond the grave.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!