+ Resurrection A
TEXT: Matthew 20:1-10; Colossians 3:1-4
DATE: April 20, 2014
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Dallas
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia!
It is awesome and fearful news!
Not just “awesome, dude” awesome,
but AWEsome – the holy and powerful work of God
that shakes the very foundations of the earth kind of awesome.
Christ is risen!
“Alleluia!” is one response to that awesome news.
And this is the big day we were saving that word for
when we buried it back in March.
The other appropriate response would be, “Surprise!”
Of course, it’s not a surprise to you, is it?
It’s why you’re here.
You knew what day it is,
and you know the story, the theme,
the basic proclamation of the day: Christ is risen.
Besides, Jesus told us three times along the way
in this story from Matthew
that he was going to die
and on the third day be raised. (Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19)
The angel reminds the women of that.
We even remind ourselves regularly.
Whenever we confess our faith with the creed
and say, “on the third day he rose again.”
Or celebrate the Lord’s Supper
and proclaim the mystery of faith: “Christ has died. Christ is risen…”
But if this news is old to us,
this isn’t just the natural flow of things.
This isn’t just a successful defibrillation in the ER.
As pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote,
“Easter is not about immortality,
but about resurrection from a death that is a real death
with all its frightfulness and horrors,
resurrection from a death of the body and the soul,
of the whole person,
resurrection by the power of God’s mighty act.”
(Bonhoeffer, “Letters to the Congregation in Barcelona” from The Thoughtful Christian.com)
This is God’s victory over the natural flow of things.
This is the divine defeat of human sin
by the life and love of God –
God’s declaration in living flesh and pumping blood
that God’s love for us
is mightier than our separation from God.
This is the beginning of the new creation
in which God redeems us and all creation
from failure and suffering and sin and death.
We might get a hint
of the surprise of this news
if we pay attention to the women
and their response: fear.
Mary Magdalene and Mary
are told twice in this story –
once by the angel and once by Jesus himself –
not to fear
because they fear that much.
It’s scary, of course,
to encounter the full power and majesty of God.
But fear goes beyond simply being scared.
Because when you face the full power and majesty of God,
you can’t help but being reminded of your own place before God.
as one writer put it,
is the profound awareness that
we are not the center of our existence,
that we are not the sum total of what matters,
and more, that we don’t know what will happen next,
and we’re not the ones who will decide it.
(From Eugene Peterson, The Message Study Bible, p. 1540)
Faced with the power and majesty of God
in the resurrection of Jesus from death,
we are fully aware of our sin
that put the Son of God on the cross,
and we are also fully aware
of the overwhelming love and powerful life of God
that defeated that sin for us. And for all. For always.
The result of that is that
we – you – are raised with Christ.
The life and love of God that defeated death for Jesus
is the same life and love you live in now.
Your life is hidden with Christ in God.
As we learned from Jesus when Lazarus died,
life and resurrection aren’t just for the future
when we die,
but are also for our living here and now.
You don’t have to live in fear of death or failure.
You are free to live in the love and life of God
that defeats and overwhelms any failure, selfish claim,
or delusions of grandeur we have.
Think of all the fears we live with:
fear for our children’s well-being,
fear for our loved ones’ health – or our own,
fear for our world’s security,
fear for our future.
Sometimes these fears bump around in our thoughts now and then,
and sometimes they become the focus of our thoughts and overwhelm us.
They are there and they are real.
But freedom to live in the love and life of God,
standing in the presence and power of God,
faced with the empty tomb
and the awesome and fearful news that “Christ is risen”
means that we know that the love and life of God
gets the last word.
And that is why
what the women felt, besides fear,
was great joy.
With fear and great joy
they ran and told the disciples.
With fear and great joy,
we stand here this morning
at the gaping hole of the empty tomb
with the very foundations of our expectations and human ways,
our failures and sin and suffering and death shaken.
We stand here in the presence and word of God –
hidden with Christ in God –
we stand here in the victory of God’s love and life
over all we have to fear.
We stand here this morning
with fear and great joy
and declare to anyone who will hear
the awesome, fearful, and surprising good news:
Christ is risen.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
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