Grace and peace to you, sisters and brothers in Christ.
We gather in the early morning to experience the movement from sorrow to joy, from despair to hope that Jesus’ resurrection leads us into. We come with the words of Jesus’ death ringing in our ears, returning here because we know that those words were not the end of the story. There is more, and we long to hear it again.
We long to hear the next chapter, because we desperately need the endings in our lives to continue on beyond where we have left them.
When we stand among the gravestones of those we have known and loved, as we walk past the markers waiting to be filled in with the dates of our deaths, we cannot help but think of the power of death. The women who travelled to Jesus’ tomb remembered the sight of him as they had laid him there after his crucifixion. We all know the finality of death, the closing of a chapter when a loved one leaves us.
We gather here today to declare that a chapter may have ended, but the book is not finished.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! (Christ is risen indeed, alleluia!)
Jesus’ death on the cross is the pivot point in the great cosmic story of all creation. Its effect stretches throughout time, transforming the story from beginning to end. Jesus’ resurrection affirms God’s purpose throughout the whole plotline: to bring all things into life and connection with God, the life-giver.
When Mary sees the empty tomb, speaks to the angels, and steps outside, she still cannot see God’s work. When Jesus stands before her, alive, she cannot recognize him. Finally, her eyes are open when Jesus calls her by name.
In the same way, our eyes are opened as we hear what God has done for us in Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection. Today makes sense of the whole story of God’s work in creation. The stories of God’s work to bring freedom, healing, forgiveness, and life are highlighted by the work of the crucified and risen one. Even though they may be told against the backdrop of oppression, sickness, hatred, violence, and death, these stories of salvation become stronger because Jesus’ resurrection reveals God’s plan and power. God will bring all things into wholeness and life. Jesus is the beginning of a renewal of the great story.
As we remember those who have died, as we love those who suffer, as we carry in our hearts our own struggles- the witness of this day opens our eyes to the purpose God is drawing us towards. In Jesus, God chooses to be present to us in the midst of difficulty, and to carry us into a new future, where the pain of today will be healed and life and life-giving relationship will be restored. The present moment is not the end. Death is not the end. Through Jesus, love wins, life wins.
The great story of God’s life-giving love goes on into the future. We are living into the dawning of that purpose today. Lift up your head with hope. The same God who has been faithful throughout the generations is faithful to you today. You will be brought into life, as Jesus has been brought from death into life again. This is the promise into which you were claimed at baptism.
God is at work, moving you, from despair into hope, from selfishness into love, from life into death. Our stories are caught up into the great story God is writing. Jesus’ resurrection is the sneak peek at the ending.
Alleluia. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!
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