Amazed at what happened – Easter 2013

His friends have seen to his broken body.

The preparations are made; the Sabbath, observed,

there was only one thing left for them to do.

But here on the first day of the week, these most faithful women are left in confusion.

The stone has been moved – Jesus body is gone!

 

Though Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for this, they cannot grasp it.

“Remember what he told you…” say those men in shining white,

and gradually, the good news dawns.

The men, of course, don’t believe what the women have seen.

Peter, being Peter, must see for himself,

and he comes away “amazed at what had happened.”

 

That, for me, is the best description of the Resurrection.

If this story; our involvement with it and, our devotion to it,

do not leave you in a state of continual amazement,  then I’m unsure of what might excite you.

For if you are an interested citizen of the planet,

The resurrection of Jesus -whether or not you believe in him or claims made about him –

has captured your attention at some level.

 

Whether or not you trust in the various gospel accounts;

whether you are a devoted and faithful member of the body of Christ,

or a casual visitor to your local service of worship,

you have been changed by the significance of this enduring tale of death defeated.

I would go so far as to say that the Resurrection is the most influential event in recent human history.

 

It has affected our calendar, our early exploration, and patterns of conquest.

It has spawned protest movements

and helped prepare the way for other methods of religious expression to gain momentum.

 

The church propped up governments and hauled them down again.

Christian thought developed new ideas about government, ethics, morality, commerce, education – you name it – all because the tomb was empty.

 

From my position within the faith, within the institutional church,

and as someone personally invested in the gospel message and its wider meaning,

I am still amazed at what had happened.

For on that morning, so long ago,

deep devotion to a murdered friend

blossomed into faith in a merciful God,

and all because the tomb was empty.

 

If it were just about the principal of “love justice, do mercy and walk humbly with your God”,

the movement that had grown around Jesus

would have faltered and settled back into the Galilean dust.

If it were only a matter of a new philosophy of religion, as proposed by Jesus the rabbi,

his name and his teaching would have been added to the volumes of rabbinic work

that continues to sustain the Jewish faithful to this day.

 

But this man of God – faithful and fearless – was dead and buried;

And suddenly; painfully; amazingly, the body is not where it should be,

and neither are our expectations.

 

For if God, in faith/through faith can conquer death,

what else might be managed in that same faithful spirit?

Amazed at what had happened, Peter returned from the tomb to a world up-ended.

Amazed by the work that God would do in spite of their grief and all they had witnessed,

the disciples of Jesus became the first witnesses to a new reality.

Jesus is raised – he is not here.

 

The love and the promised kingdom

that had been his message since the crowds first gathered ‘round him,

have now been given flesh and breath in a world desperate for hope.

 

It was amazing then – it is amazing now.

Not because it is the magic solution to all our ordinary problems – it is not.

We must still untangle the messes of our social relationships;

we must face the damage we have done, are doing, and will do to ourselves and the planet –

Resurrection or not, our redemption is always a work in progress.

 

The resurrection of Jesus is amazing

because it forces us to see the world differently, whether we want to or not.

Death is a different kind of mystery now.

Faith contains a new component.

God has made an indelible mark on human society,

and it is up to us to deal with that.

 

It is a mark of profound beauty and grace – a mark that has nothing to do with our privilege,

and everything to do with the height and breadth of God’s great love for all Creation.

It is a mark that we all bear, to some degree –

the baptized and those who are not – the faithful and the pagan – apostle and agnostic

no one escapes this statement that God has made.

Christ is Risen, and we remain amazed by what has happened.

Alleluia!  Amen.

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