Archive for April 2017

Easter Day      4/16/17 Epiphany, Norfolk John 20:1-18

The Easter Story that Julia has just read to you is not a very happy story. We may have just sung, “Welcome Happy Morning”, but in fact, it wasn’t a happy morning. Our story tells of a pretty tragic series of events. Jesus has just, a few days earlier, been killed in probably the most detailed and gruesome execution ever recorded. It was a horrible week for everyone involved in the story.
And now, Mary Magdalene has come to the tomb and found it opened. And she is convinced that Jesus’ body has been stolen. That would be a horrible experience for anyone. So she goes and gets Peter and another disciple, and they, too, find the tomb empty. And it makes no sense to any of them. The disciples return home, but Mary stays at the tomb. Then Mary sees two figures sitting where the body had been, and they spoke to her. That was strange beyond belief. Then she has some sort of an encounter with what she understands to be a pre-resurrection Jesus. That event raises more questions than answers for Mary, and for scholars, even today.
The other Gospels also describe a very confusing and tragic Easter Morning Event. It takes another 50 days of Resurrection appearances, and remembering and analyzing the teachings of Jesus before an understanding of the resurrection begins to emerge. And in fact, it’s still being analyzed and studied, 2,000 years later. And 2,000 years later it still doesn’t fully make sense, even to the greatest theologians.
I think that’s pretty normal. When events happen in our lives, even today, we don’t understand them right away. It takes time to “process” what is happening. And so often, it looks totally different with time, then it did “in the moment.”
Here, we have a tragic story beyond understanding, evolving into a story of hope, and joy, and promise. We celebrate this strange event with flowers, and triumphal music, and decorations, and Easter egg hunts, and all sorts of things. Today we celebrate a sense of God acting in creation to heal, and forgive, and turn pain into beauty and wonder.
Yesterday morning the weather was so beautiful that I could not stay in the house. I decided to give my very neglected yard a little attention – not the big heavy stuff with power tools and a lot of noise. It was so beautiful out there that I wanted it to be quiet and simple. Birds were singing all over the place. A wonderful breeze was blowing. My camellias are starting to fade, but the azaleas are in full bloom, along with all kinds of little bulbs, and flowers, and things that I don’t even know what they are or from where they came. The roses aren’t open yet, but they’re in bud and I know they’ll be beautiful in just a few more days. And the dogs and the cats were following me around, chasing the rake and playing with everything. Of course, there were also a lot of dead leaves, and twigs, and trash that needed cleaning up. But that was o.k. That’s what I was out there for – to start cleaning up. And I could feel the Vitamin D soaking into my pores.
Gray, cold winter was gone. Regenerated life, and warmth, and rebirth were all around me. It was one of those beautiful mornings that I think I’ll always remember. I had not a concern or worry in the world. And I realized that I was really experiencing a sense of joy: joy of the beautiful weather, joy of the new growth all around me, joy of my pets playing, joy of the breeze, and birds, and earthy smells of the garden. And I pondered that as I raked, and trimmed, and started putting things right. And I decided that joy, and happiness, and contentment are holy feelings that come from inside. They sort of “well up” from within. No one can talk us into joy, or give it to us in a package. Joy is a state of mind from deep down inside.
And this is what I think happened to those involved with the Christ event. Their utter despair evolved into hope and joy as they began to understand, sometime after Easter Morning, that what Jesus had been teaching had actually come true. It still couldn’t be explained. But something wonderful had happened out of the pain and horror of their Holy Week, and their lives were changed.
Well, my hope and prayer for all of us this Easter Morning is that we might find that sense of joy welling up in us as a holy feeling of being “at one” with the Risen Christ. My hope is that we not even try to understand. If we can just “feel” the Risen Christ, and come together with our friends, and family, and neighbors, our lives will be changed.
My prayer is that this will be a Blessed Easter Morning for all of us, as we experience the Risen Christ from deep within our souls.

Posted April 18, 2017 by Church of the Epiphany in Epiphany Moments

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