April 8, 2012
The Very Reverend Donald W. Krickbaum
ACTS 10:34-43 — PSALM 118:14-29 — COLOSSIANS 3:1-4 — MARK 16:1-8
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” [Mark 16:6-7]
Mark’s original version of the Easter story is very short and ends abruptly with the women who went to the tomb being told that the Risen Lord had gone to Galilee and would meet them there. Mark kept it very simple. “Galilee” was back out into the world, into Jesus’ own territory, where he lives with everyone else. That is where we, too, find Jesus and that is where he meets us. That is the place of the church. It is not a place of commemoration of a dead Jesus, not even simply a place to adore a Messiah that we are taught was raised. Instead, the church is the threshold into Galilee, a window into the world where the risen Christ goes ahead of us. It is the meeting point of heaven and earth, where the sacred and the secular meet in the presence of the living Lord.
We are fed and nurtured, we are assured of the most basic and essential belief of Christendom that our God lives in the person of Christ, not confined to a box on the altar nor the boundaries of these walls. Christ lives in the world where you and I live. We have come here to discover him for ourselves in order to recognize him in our world, where we can point to him and say, “There he is, my Lord and my God.” Easter is the very essence of life, not simply a recurring feast day in the Christian Calendar. It is the shattering of what we think we know in order to make way for the real truth – that God is alive in our world and in the life of each and everyone of us.
This is a challenge to all of us, as our Presiding Bishop once said, “The reality that Easter proclaims is that everything that restricts, diminishes, imprisons and limits life as God intends it . . . is trampled down by the risen Christ. Christ’s victory is therefore a challenge to everything within us and within the church and our world that resists Christ’s all-embracing freedom.” Presiding Bishop Katherine said, “In this Easter season I would encourage you to look at where you are finding new life and resurrection, where life abundant and love incarnate are springing up in your lives and the lives of your communities. There is indeed greenness, whatever the season. Give thanks for Easter. Give thanks for resurrection. Give thanks for the presence of God incarnate in our midst.”
Unhampered, for the most part, with confusion with secular celebrations, like Christmas, Easter is the ultimate celebration of the Christian experience. It is on this day that we hear once again the story of our faith: the experience of the women who went to the tomb; the vision of the Apostles to whom he later appeared; the proclamation of the church through the ages that the tomb was empty and that Jesus has risen from the dead; and that we have been liberated and given new life and hope.
Ironically, this is the most difficult day of the year for the preacher to preach, because one cannot really embellish on the story or say more than our worship says for us. Easter, actually all of Holy Week, also, is the church at its best, doing what it is intended to do, being what we are called to be—a community of faith which gathers to share our faith and celebrate the love of God for us and one another. It is our experience of God within our life in the church and with one another that defines who we are. We are not here to explain or justify what we believe, but simply to celebrate it. We are here to have a wonderful day of praise, worship, and sharing fellowship with one another, and, together, coming to the altar of our God to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Our life as Christians does not begin with understanding. We cannot and dare not attempt to approach Easter with the idea to de-mystify it, rationalize it, or explain it in anyway that “makes sense.”
Dean Alan Jones wrote, “The Resurrection is not about a dead carpenter being resuscitated and making it onto the six o'clock news. It is the explosion of the radically New. The Good News is about the New breaking in on our tired, frustrated, and divided world and filling us with awe, wonder, and longing. . It is an invitation to live and to live now. (Alan Jones, Passion for Pilgrimage)
The “New” of this Resurrection faith is the experience of the physical, material reality of the people of God who discover that we are living now in the reality of the Presence of the Holy. Our faith may be informed by the experience of others, but our faith is formed by our encounter with the risen Lord.
Now, look and see for yourself where Christ is in your life. Our acceptance of his presence changes our lives—how we see life, how we live life, how we relate to each other, how we set our priorities, how we go about the business of daily living, and ultimately, how we define ourselves. Such an experience is what transforms and enlivens us within this community of faith. It is almost more than we can bear because it is so wonderful, so powerful, so real. God lives! We are stretched to the breaking point in these turbulent times and in our own turbulent existence and, yet, we are brought face to face with the immeasurable riches of God.