Easter: Unbelievably Good News

Easter: Unbelievably Good News

by the Rev. Canon Mary E. Hauck, Rector of St. Michael's in Carmichael

It was 5:15 a.m. when I first got there. Soon after, these words were spoken: "On this most holy night, our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life." And again the community recounted the story. It was very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had not yet risen, and we stood, observing alongside Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, God’s powerful intrusion into human history. We heard again the story of how the divine hand raised Jesus of Nazareth to new life, and in so doing, rescued us from sin and death – A ‘once for all time’ action that changed everything.

It is yours and mine to wonder at – in terror and amazement – this singular action that is the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It shatters everything that would close the door on what is possible. It creates and recreates year after year the promise of a new future... We heard St. Paul speak of it in his letter to the Romans:

"We know that Christ being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.. and if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

In the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are given an alternative perspective on the world... and called to embody a life shaped by the Christ who sits at God's right hand.

In the resurrection of Jesus, Christians know that God indeed creates... that God's power indeed triumphs over all other powers... and that, in Jesus Christ, God has signaled the redemption of humankind.

In the resurrection of Jesus, Christians are confronted with unbelievably good news... but news that is also intimidating and, frankly, scary. That’s why Mark 16:1-8 is my favorite Easter Gospel. It catches the first witnesses to the Resurrection utterly unprepared and disorganizes them completely!

We hear how the women fled the tomb, gripped by terror, confused and amazed. Oh, we can go back and read on in Mark and the other gospels of their brief announcement to Peter, and of subsequent appearances of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, the disciples, and dispirited travelers on the road to Emmaus. We can relish stories of fish barbeques on the beach, reality hand-and-feet checks in the locked upper room, but as for me, I claim Mark’s stark telling. I am completely at home in what feels to me like a totally believable moment: running pell-mell from the tomb in terror and amazement!

The proclamation of the empty tomb defies easy explanation... We can imagine the women, stopping further along the road, holding on to each other, rehearsing what they had just witnessed, wondering if it was true –even more perhaps, wondering whether or not they would be believed.

But news of a divine deliverance provokes a response – and when they had pulled themselves together, they went forward in faith and conviction. I have a favorite stories from Anthony de Mello’s little book, Taking Flight, I want to share. Paraphrasing a bit, he writes:

A man greets his friend at an airport and says: "I heard this was your first flight. Were you scared?"

"Well, yes, it was, and to tell you the truth," replied his friend, "I didn't dare put my full weight down on the seat."

Easter is an event that asks us to put our full weight down on the seat. At its heart, the Resurrection asks us to really believe God will save us through Jesus Christ. It asks us to trust God's promise of salvation – And it asks us to be willing to let our life be shaped and led by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s enough of a challenge for most of us right there.

But I think there’s more...

The resurrection of Jesus asks us, in fact, to move beyond the life and message of Jesus as we read of him in the Gospels, and invites us to a lifelong encounter with the Risen Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Resurrection invites us into a "lived" faith. This is the kind of faith that is revealed in and through meeting the Risen Christ when we pray or read the Bible with intention. It’s revealed in our Baptism the day we take it seriously. A lived faith is found as we share in the Eucharistic bread and wine in community with others. It’s a part of our loving fellowship with other Christians, and, most blessedly, it manifests itself in service to God's people in salient and concrete ways.

The resurrection of Jesus calls us to Easter faith, and requires an Easter response – which is to be a witness. We make an Easter response when we put our full weight down on the seat.

In the face of the impossible and the illogical, let us put our full weight on the seat and live this Easter Season celebrating for all time what the Rev. Fleming Rutledge called “the Undoing of Death,” and the affirmation of Eternal Life.

The Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

4 comments (Add your own)

1. Christine wrote:
This rocks! Thank you

Tue, April 24, 2012 @ 4:54 PM

2. Alethea Eason wrote:
I think this is my favorite homily I've ever read. Copying and keeping to read when I lose a bit of faith.

Tue, April 24, 2012 @ 8:38 PM

3. Gaye Anne wrote:
Thank you dear Mary+ for the walk to and from His empty tomb; to His risen presence in all things!

Wed, April 25, 2012 @ 7:57 AM

4. Martin (Jamie)Newkom wrote:
I am pleased that you quoted (the Rev) Fleming Rutledge. She has always
been a true promoter of the true, unadulterated and blessed Gospel of the
Risen Lord.n

Wed, April 25, 2012 @ 10:50 AM

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