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Sunday, April 01, 2007
The Easter story is at the center of Christian faith. Our lives orbit the mystery of Jesus alive and the tomb empty like the earth around the sun. In the Resurrection, the God of new things transforms reality and offers hope and life to all. Luke 24:1–12 or John 20:1–18 “He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:6). The Resurrection happens without any eyewitnesses. Stories of Jesus’ re-appearance to his disciples soon follow, but early on that first Easter morning there is only an empty tomb and angelic messengers to report the news. The Resurrection is an incredible event – not just in the popular sense of spectacular, but also in the sense of “not credible” or “not to be believed.” Though firmly asserting that Jesus is risen, Luke shows that the Resurrection can not be fully comprehended by human minds and hearts. The women at the tomb are perplexed and even frightened. They then describe to the apostles what they have experienced. Their report is received as an “idle tale” and not believed. The Greek word translated here as idle does not mean “chit-chat,” but rather “nonsense.” Why? Is it because humans try to make sense of new facts by fitting them into old frames of reference? Some things may require new frames. The empty tomb is God’s new frame and cannot be compared to other experiences. The Easter message is not just about a change in Jesus, but also about a change in all faithful followers. To live as an Easter people is to live with mystery and to allow that mystery to transform us. In the alternate gospel reading for today, John 20:1–18, there are three witnesses to the empty tomb – Mary Magdalene, Peter, and “the one whom Jesus loved” (v. 2). Although the story begins with Mary offering a plausible explanation for what has happened, it ends in mystery. The witnesses cannot explain the empty tomb or the folded burial cloth; they can only experience it and believe in God’s power. A condensed version of the Easter account can be found in Peter’s sermon to Cornelius and his household in Acts 10:34–43. Though Peter and the other apostles were not eyewitnesses to the Resurrection, they experienced the resurrected Christ and were able to share the power of this event with others. In this sense we are all able to be witnesses to the Resurrection as we proclaim the good news. The hope we experience in God’s transforming work is given expression by the prophet in Isaiah 65:17–25. This magnificent vision of a new heaven and a new earth is a glimpse of a world transformed by God. As we wonder at the stone that sealed Jesus’ tomb but did not seal Jesus’ fate, so the psalmist marvels that “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24, according to Jewish liturgical tradition, is one of the psalms sung at the Passover meal. It celebrates victory at the hand of God. That victory had seemed so unlikely! Only God could do this. As we ponder the Resurrection, we sense a similar victory. What else can we do but rejoice? In 1 Corinthians 15:19–26, Paul pushes the meaning of Easter beyond life and death to a vision of God being over all. Paul offers a context for understanding the power of the Resurrection to restore the world to wholeness in God by seeing Jesus as the countermeasure to Adam. Celebrating Easter is about changing our frame of reference from the expected to the incredible. God is present in what seems to be absence. In what ways have you sensed or experienced the joy of Easter?

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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