Easter 2010 – No idle tale…

Old Testament – Isaiah 65: 17-25

Responsive Reading – Psalm 118

Epistle – 1 Corinthians 15: 19-26

“Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,

that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified,

and on the third day rise again.”

These are the words that start the ball rolling toward belief in the impossible

for those brave women at Jesus’ tomb.

Impossible, because the world simply did not work that way.

Dead was dead, and there was nothing that could be done.

They had their own experience and the weight of cultural opinion on their side.

They knew everything about life and death that there was to know –

they lived in a very advanced society; they were firm in their convictions…

and as it happens, on this morning,

on the first day of this brand new week, they were wrong.

History confirms that we are able (and willing) to believe any number of things.

We believed quite firmly that humans beings were unable to fly.

That the earth was the centre of the universe –

and that if you sailed far enough, you would fall off the edge.

At various times we have believed that the colour of a persons skin determined their worth

that you country of origin determined your character.

We were able to convince ourselves that women were property, not people

that our emotions were controlled by our blood –

that diseases were divine judgement – and natural events could be ‘controlled’ by ritual sacrifice.

Some of these beliefs continue in altered form –

some things are so firmly fixed in us as to be immovable.

Others change as our knowledge expands and our understanding adapts.

We have figured out how to use power, wind and wings to remain airborne;

we have adopted a model of the universe that is infinitely larger that we once imagined –

and does not place us at the centre

we have circled the globe and have begun to accept that,

while not everyone is the same, everyone has value.

Our beliefs can and will change as new evidence is revealed to us

and in that ancient graveyard, on the first day of the week,

these women received news that altered the way we see the universe.

Life and death have long been unchangeable mysteries

what lay beyond death brought all kinds of religious speculation

in nearly every recorded culture.

If life brought fear and hardship and uncertainty, death brought even more.

And here at Jesus tomb, his friends brought all those fears and doubts

only to have them thrown aside by the words “he is not here – but is risen”

Could the world suddenly be so different?

Can the rules change overnight?

Can there possibly be something more powerful that death?

The answer to all those questions on this day, is yes!

Without understanding how it works,

these women, on the strength of their own senses, are moved to believe in the impossible.

The world is different – absolutely different –

because death is not the last act (but rather, an intermission…) in the drama of our existence.

The rules as they knew them have been cast aside –

God has proven God’s power over the thing that holds us all captive –

death (and fear of it) – by springing the trap and raising Jesus.

The proof will come for these women – and for the rest of the disciples.

Jesus will once again move among them – eat with them – teach and bless them –

but belief does not need proof. (Belief is an act of the imagination).

Today our imaginations are once again being fed. In this act of great power that we remember this morning, God, through the resurrection of Jesus, invites us to re-imagine the way the world works.

Today we are reminded that our notions of how the world works might be wrong:

death is not the end – and therefore should have no power over us.

God is greater than our greatest fear – Christ lives, and though we cannot (yet) see him, the evidence of his living is overwhelming. Lives continue to be changed – all because we chose to believe what seemed ‘an idle tale’ – He is not dead – he has Risen.

Alleluia – Amen

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