Homily for Easter 2011

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 at 10:08 pm

There’s a certain school of thought that says
“life is like banging your head against a brick wall”.
In that it’s good when you stop.

Such people might tell you that however hard life seems here and now, in heaven everything will be better.
So that’s alright then.

And while that’s true,
it’s a little inadequate, here and now.

You could look at Holy Week from this perspective:
having been through the agonies of the garden
and Good Friday, the harrowing silence of Holy Saturday,
here we are on Easter Day,
and we’ve made it through all the bad stuff.

Pass the Easter eggs and we’ll celebrate
that Lent’s over for another year.

Which is fine, except that it rather begs the question,
“so what was the point?”

Easter is not just
the absence of the pain of Good Friday, or an end to Lent.
Sure, the central metaphor and reality of this day
is the empty tomb, but it is not emptiness that defines us.
Easter is the central, the first and greatest, day of our faith.
The day and the experience most full of meaning
for those of us who call ourselves Christians.
This is the day, the experience,
that turned the frightened and generally unreliable characters
of the gospels, those followers and disciples of Jesus,
into women and men who passionately lived and died
to spread “Good News”.

Matthew’s Gospel tells the story with drama and power:
an angel in an earthquake rolling back the tombstone,
the very earth shaking – as it did at Jesus’ death –
for the power of what was being proclaimed:
“He is not here”.

Not where you come looking for him, lifeless, confined.

Not where death, despair and darkness reign.

The tomb is empty.
Devoid of power, as of this moment, here and now:
“death has no power over him now”.
There is no body, no corpse.
The power that seemed so emphatic and unassailable
on Calvary is lost without a victim.
The hatred, the humiliation,
the unholy alliances forged to silence the truth…
these ultimately have no power.

“He is not here”.

Perhaps you’ve sat with someone dying
and known that they’ve gone.
You could say at that moment, “they are not here”.

And yet that’s not the message of Easter,
not merely some sort of release after suffering,
but something that transformed broken women and men
into victorious, powerful, holy, joyful,
willing-to-take-on-the-world apostles, …and martyrs.

Filled with the Spirit, filled with Good News, filled.

For our faith is not about absence.
The tomb is empty.  But we are not.
The world is full of the power of God,
proclaimed in the Risen Christ.
The angel speaks those words, “He is not here”.
And yet in barely a moment, he is.

Our faith is not ultimately about an absence.
An empty tomb, after all, might simply lack for a body.
As the two Marys discover,
the Easter message is about a presence.
About life, a life fully and perpetually
restored, reshaped, redeemed, beyond our imagination.

And this is what we enter into in our baptism.
The death and resurrection of our Lord.

Life – this life – a life that will not be silenced with our
last breath, but that begins a song of praise to God
that need never end.
A life – full, free from victimhood,
from the fear and power of death itself,
whatever our life should bring us,
we live because Christ lives.

We share in the Resurrection reality, here, in this flesh and blood, and in a life beyond mere mortality.

Poet George Herbert says:
Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.


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