(Pastor runs down the center aisle wearing an obnoxious shirt, dancing the samba, throwing leis and yelling “He’s Alive!”)
Probably not quite what you were expecting on an Easter Sunday morning, huh? Most of the time when we come to church we expect a calm, quiet, sedate service. On Easter especially, we expect a very “nice” reverent service. As I was thinking about the whole Easter thing, I began to feel uncomfortable with the concept of the “nice” service. I was bothered. “Why should a ‘nice’ service be a problem? Certainly we are entitled to a nice service. After all, this is Easter and we are celebrating the most holy holiday of the church year.”
“Yes,” I thought. “We should have a nice, reverent Easter service; something people will enjoy and be happy with.”
So I started to prepare a nice, reverent, Easter service. But still something kept bothering me. As I continued to study the scriptures and to think about the meaning of Easter, it struck me.
Easter has nothing to do with being nice. Easter has nothing to do with being reverent. Easter has nothing to do with being happy. Let’s think about it; Easter is about the dead coming back to life! Easter is about a total change in time as we know it. Easter is about a total change in life as we know it!
How should we be acting if the dead came back to life? Should we be “nice”? Should we be ”reverent”? Should we be “happy”? By no means! Think about it, if my cat was to die and came back to life, I would be running up and down the street, telling everyone I know! If a person were to come back to life, I would be more than nice, reverent, and happy! I would be jumping up and down, shouting at the top of my lungs! I would be ecstatic beyond belief! I would not be nice, reverent, and happy.
Nice, reverent, and happy are for people who do not quite get it. Well, people who don’t get it or for people who think this raising from the dead doesn’t apply to them.
I can see Mary, the mother of Jesus, at a cocktail party eating those little meatballs and talking to Ethel, the wife of Simon the potter.
Mary says, “Ethel, do you know my son Jesus?”
Ethel says, “Oh yes, he was such a nice boy. Sorry to hear about the cross situation."
Mary says, “Yes, that was a terrible tragedy. But I have some good news. He has been risen from the dead. Isn’t that nice?”
Ethel replies, “Oh yes! Very nice! You must be so happy.”
No, I think the responses would be much more intense. Mary would be either excited or stunned. She would be overcome with some emotion but she certainly would not be indifferent. The same would apply to Ethel. Ethel would either be terribly excited or terribly worried about the mental health of Mary, but Ethel, too, would not be indifferent. Jesus returning from the dead would have a very real impact on their lives. Because of this impact they could not be indifferent.
I see in our “nice”, “reverent”, and “happy” services an indifference to the fact that Jesus has risen from the dead. I see a lack of understanding how this effects our lives, today! We shout “Christ is risen, indeed!” but the immensity of what we say fails to move us.
Folks, because Christ has died and is risen, HE NOW IS ALIVE! This is something that is for the present, the here and now. This is not something that just happened in the past. And because Christ has broken the bonds of death, WE TOO WILL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE! This is the gift we are given!
We do not have to earn this gift. If you have to earn a gift it isn’t really a gift is it? No, this gift is freely given to us. CHRIST HAS BROKEN THE BONDS OF SIN AND DEATH! THROUGH CHRIST WE TOO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE! Just let that sink in for a moment. We do not have to do anything to earn salvation, Christ did it for us. We do not have to live up to the standards of the world; these standards have no power. We do not have to have the right car, the right clothes, or the right job. We do not have to follow what the advertisers tell us, we are lovable and special because Christ gave his life for us.
In our second reading Paul tells the Corinthian congregation and us that Christ’s death and resurrection is redemptive to us all. Through the sin of Adam, sin and death came into the world. Through the sin of Adam we too are sinners. But through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have all been redeemed. It is through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that our sins have been forgiven.
The early Christians were confused about this whole death and resurrection thing, they heard the prophecies but it was almost too incredible to believe. When they first encounter the risen Christ, they didn’t know what to do. But when Christ came and ate with them, they began to understand.
Finally, at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to them. It is at this time that they couldn’t control themselves. At risk to their own lives they went our to tell the world about the wondrous resurrection of Christ. And it was through their passionate telling of the Good News that many came to faith.
I am here to tell you that the resurrection is not something that happened in the past and has no effect on us today. The resurrection is here, today! The resurrection is for you! The resurrection is for me! The resurrection is now! Christ is risen and because of this the bonds of death have been broken, forever! We are freed to be about the work of God in the world! We are free to love not only our friends and family but also our enemies because Christ has loved us, and them, first!
Christ died on the cross! Christ suffered the ultimate separation, separation from God, so that we wouldn’t have to. And Christ has broken the ultimate bonds, the bonds of death! Christ is ALIVE! That is something to be excited about! That is something to cheer about! That is something to shout to the whole world! So if it means we dance in the aisle, SO BE IT! Christ has died and conquered death! We have eternal life! THAT IS COOL!
THANK-YOU JESUS! THANK-YOU GOD! THANK-YOU SPIRIT! AMEN!