St. Mary Nanoose Bay
April 21, 2019 Easter Morning
Dear friends, our time of waiting is over…. we can celebrate. All we have feared has come to pass and something wonderful we did not expect has happened. Jesus has shown us that forgiveness and love trump hate and evil, and that death is not the end.
Jesus came to turn the world upside down. He came to show the people that the God they were worshiping was too small, judgmental and aloof. He came to show us God’s radical love and mercy. And people thought he had done that with his teachings, his parables and his healings. But then they thought all was lost when he was convicted, tortured and killed as a lowly criminal. They thought cruelty, hatred and death had had the final word. That God had succumbed.
In this morning’s readings, we learn that even, and maybe more importantly especially, in death, Jesus continues to turn our world and our understanding upside down. In an act that would transform the world, Jesus took our worst fears and composted them into something new. He showed us that love not only survives death, but love contains it.
And so after 6 weeks of Lent, we can allow all the darkness we have confronted in ourselves and in the world, to be transformed into something new – through accepting the love and receiving the unconditional mercy of our God, through Jesus Christ. “Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” is a good question. After all the stories and the witness reports we have had passed down to us through the ages, why is it still so difficult for us to grasp the magnitude of God’s love? The world was changed in that moment. But we are still trying to absorb that change, that message, that love.
I remember when our first son was born. I was filled with a love I hadn’t known before. Suddenly, I saw the world differently. I thought, “All these women and men with children, they’ve all experienced what Jim and I are now experiencing…. this profound love. How come the world isn’t a more loving place, filled with people tenderly caring for life; expressing overwhelming gratitude and awe?”
But daily life takes over - diapers need changing, babies need feeding, toilets need cleaning and fatigue, demands, habits and laziness all draw us back from living on this edge of truth. Where life is a miracle, love the heartbeat, and mercy the nourishment.
We are all held in this amazing exchange of love… forever. We come from it, we experiment with it, grow in it, and learn to share it….and then before most of us feel ready, we are called back into the source of it.
All our failings, sins, shortcomings are composted by this embracing love to fuel our compassion, our understanding, our love for others and our willingness to serve them. We learn, hopefully, and grow.
This is not theory, it’s been shown to us. That death and evil does not prevail over life and love. We just need to let that truth sink in and change us. Jesus came back after he died to people who have recorded their experiences so we might better believe. And be enabled to stand by suffering to journey into the presence of love.
Mary Magdalene’s love for Jesus enabled her to stay with him as he suffered on the cross, and on this day all these years ago, to weep by the grave of her beloved teacher. Even when nothing made sense any longer, she stayed. As close as she could to where his body had been.
In that raw emotion, in that desperate need, Jesus appeared to Mary. His presence reassured her and comforted her. And right away, he gave her the task of comforting and reassuring the others. Which she did.
The message Jesus gave Mary all those centuries ago, is meant for us as well today. That we have not been abandoned. Death cannot take away the love we experience and know.
Every ending is a new beginning. Every baptism, a commitment to live by this new reality. Every Easter a commitment to renew our baptismal vows.
The profundity of the message of Jesus takes a life time to absorb. We keep slipping back into fear, hatred and denial. But love will have its way.
And today we celebrate the absolute power of God’s love for us. And we celebrate the one who came to show us precisely how this love behaves in the face of hatred and death.
We have this one precious lifetime to explore, grow into and express this love. Nothing we do cannot be forgiven and changed into something beautiful.
And so this Easter day, let us recommit ourselves to following the path of love. Amen.