Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sermon: He is Raised!

I thank God every day for Jesus.
          Jesus uniquely chosen by God our Father, revealed in his baptism.
          Jesus who began his ministry by demonstrating the richness of God’s love by turning an abundance of ritual water into celebratory wine.
          Jesus who healed the sick time and time again, saving people from sickness and returning them to community with their family and friends.
          Jesus whose preaching and presence was good news
for the poor whom he lifted up,
the hungry whom he fed,
the mourning whom he comforted,
and the hated whom he loved.
          Yes, I thank God for Jesus.

          And, because of this life of his, his death was all that more horrific.
Death on a cross, the implement of Roman Criminal Execution.
Death on a tree, a biblical sign of God’s curse.
          How could this be, a criminal cursed by God, this Jesus!
          What a fall from grace, what a disappointment and sadness, how awful!

          Yet, in the face of such a sad story, we see something else.
          We, with those women, see what we could not see until we come face to face with the empty tomb,
until we look in, look for the living among the dead,
and can says, though our voices quaver, that “he’s not here, but has risen!”

          I will not deny, in the face of Jesus’ death, our words can sound like an idle tale… we can sound like a people to be pitied,
holding onto hope, when everyone knows hoping just gets you hurt
—trusting in anything is just a recipe for heartbreak.
          And yet, our hearts swell, and our voices grow clearer, “He is raised!”       
          He is raised, and his fate is reversed!
          While Rome has power, it has no authority to declare Jesus a criminal
—he is innocent.
          Religion declares Jesus cursed and is pushed back by God
—he is not cursed, no, Jesus is the Blessed One!
          This event is the great reversal, he who was criminalized, cursed, and killed, is innocent, blessed, and raised.
He is raised!

          He is raised, the first fruit—the offering to God that guarantees the whole field.
The older brother,
 who shows his siblings the way.
The Resurrected One,
who promises to us our own resurrection!
          Yes, we can step forward from day to day, fully aware that we too face death,
we too will die,
we too are fragile and can be ended by force or by decay.
          Yes, fully aware of our mortality,
but also aware that we belong to Christ,
that in our Baptism we put him on like clothing,
and in this community we practice living together as his body.
We are his, and so we, like him, will be raised.
We can trust this promise to us that God has made in the very body of Jesus our Lord.
          He is raised.
          He is raised, and that means something,
and not just about how we assess the good life of Jesus…
and not just about how we can live as hope filled human beings, faced with death, but also resurrection!
          He is raised, and that means even more!
          It means, he is Prince of Peace and Lord of All. All pretenders, with their violence and cruelty, are overruled by the one who rules by becoming a slave.
          It means, the cosmos itself, all that is, is being grabbed by the nostrils and pulled away from our futile alliance with death and sin.
          We’re being brought under the gentle rule of Jesus.
          Though it doesn’t look like it so often,
Trust that the world is being redeemed,
and the Kingdom of God—that reality Jesus spoke of so often in parables, comes.
          We can see only so far down the road, but we can see the map and we know its goal, its end.
          The life of Jesus writ large, transforming our world—all of it.

          He is raised,
reversing the fate and judgment of the world.
          He is raised,
that we too might be raised.
          He is raised,
that the world might be transformed.

Alleluia. Christ is risen!