Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sermon 2.0

          Because I knew about an upcoming memorial service during Holy Week, which eventually became 2 memorial services after Holy Week, I put my nose to the grind stone, reading commentary after commentary weeks in advance—plotting out the 6 sermons and 9 services all ahead of time.
          And, for today, I had a simple formula I thought would carry the sermon:

(Fear + Great Joy) + Be Not Afraid = Great Joy

          I talked with a mathematician
I knew he was a good one because he called it maths instead of math
—the equation checked out, fear added to be not afraid cancel one another out. We are left only with Great Joy.

          I was going to have us go through a spread-sheet, noticing the fears and joys in Matthew’s Gospel and then move to the fears and joys of our own life.
          Finally, I was going to tell you all that the resurrection shifts the balance—that beyond the command to be not afraid, there is the action which makes it so
… Jesus risen from the dead, that we too shall do the same.
          
          But it doesn’t work… don’t get me wrong… it works… the equation is right and the point is, ultimately, true—fear and joy are transformed by the promise of resurrection… 
but it doesn’t work.
          Easter, at the end of the day, is not an equation.
          Resurrection is not something to put on a spreadsheet.
          It isn’t planned out weeks in advance.
          It isn’t a dogma to drill into your head, not a systematized something to be easily defined, digested and disseminated.
          No, it is always a Surprising Resurrectiona Jagged Easter.

Prayer
          A Surprising Resurrection and a Jagged Easter.

          Think of Easter Baskets…after the ravenous kids get hold of them.
          Think of a time when you did something important and you didn’t know how it was going to go
—you couldn’t tell if you were excited or anxious.
          Think about the line from that Script’s song, “When a heart breaks, no it don't break even.”

          All these things, point to particularity, point to messiness—each of our lives, each one of us… particular, 
and particularly touched by Resurrection and by Easter.
          Easter is jagged, because it is the story of God acting among human beings. 
          Resurrection isn’t something we plan for, it is always a surprise, because it involves the experiences of people, in all their magnificent strangeness!
          Where our hearts are most broken, there we will most clearly find God healing us and raising us with Christ. Those broken places are intimate and strange, regions unmapped and sometimes known only to us, yet they are where resurrection takes place.
          
          What I’m saying is: Easter is for you. Resurrection is for you!
          Turn to your neighbor and say, “Resurrection is for you.”

          For you Mary, there at the tomb
—having met Jesus 
and followed him 
and followed after him even when the male disciples left
—seen him to the end, 
seen his last breath.
          You don’t have the 20/20 hindsight we have
—ultimately we know too much about Easter to easily get hold of Easter
—but not you, this was nothing you planned for…
          Mary, there at the tomb—metaphorically as well as literally.
          There quaking earth and quaking guards.
          Stone removed and frightening angel. 
          Do not be afraid, the resurrection is for you!
          Go, tell someone, “the resurrection is for you!”
          Mary if you didn’t believe the words when they came from the lips of an angel, well, here come the words again, this time from the Resurrected One, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell!”
          Mary resurrection is for you.

          For you, Pastor Chris, there at the pulpit, trust not the words of your own lips, but instead that the Spirit will use them. The generalwill become particular, not in your speaking, but in the congregation’s hearing.
          Do not be afraid, the resurrection is for you!
          Go, tell someone, “the resurrection is for you!”
          Pastor Chris resurrection is for you.

          One of our longest time members—Willie Meisnest, died last week.
          For you, Willie, there in the grave—trust now the words you’ve trusted your whole life long. Willie, resurrection is for you.

          On Maundy Thursday Logan and Leah took their first communion.
          For you, Leah and Logan, there at the rail. Your young lives already intersecting with the promise of God “Body of Christ, Blood of Christ, for you.”
          Do not be afraid, the resurrection is for you!
          Go, tell someone, “the resurrection is for you!”
          Logan and Leah, resurrection is for you.

          Sharada, in a few moments time you’ll be baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection.
          Do not be afraid, the resurrection is for you!
          Go, tell someone, “the resurrection is for you!”
          Sharada, resurrection is for you.

          Sisters and brothers, wherever you are at in this moment, all the particulars of your life
—the breaks in your heart, the unique jaggedness of your soul. 
You, in your whole self and whole history
—all the things that make you you, and not someone else
—in all of that, I want you to know that Easter is for youResurrection is for you.
Resurrection is for you.
Amen and Alleluia! Christ is risen! (Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!)

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