April 17, 2022 – The Resurrection of the Lord – EASTER

Mother Elizabeth Farr

Alleluia! Christ is Risen. . .

What do we do with news like this?

News that today is a new beginning – that God is creating new

heavens and a new earth. Today is the first day of creation. Before sundown last night, before the first star appeared in the sky, there was utter darkness. Deafening silence. There was a black hole of sorrow and grief attracting anything and everything into its influence. And then with the wink of that first star in the sky, God spoke the Word, “Let there be. . .” Divine creativity moved again over the waters of the world’s anguish and darkness, and, “Alleluia. Christ is Risen.”

What do we do with news like this?

News that on this first day of the week Christ’s body is not in the tomb. The women faithfully go at morning’s first light to attend to their friend and Savior’s dead body. They go with the spices and with the heaviness of their own sorrow to honor what has been. They go to pay homage to the dust – not yet knowing what God can do with it – not yet knowing that God has spoken the Word of creation – and breathed the breath of life into death itself. The men in dazzling clothes at the tomb tell the women, “He is not here.” “Alleluia. Christ is risen.”

What do we do with news like this?

Well, we’re already off to a pretty good start this morning. We have come together to greet this news with praise and song. From Isaiah today we hear, “Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating. . .”

What do we do with news like this?

We express our joy and thanksgiving. We offer shouts of, “Alleluia!”and sing the familiar hymns. We adorn our sacred spaces with the holiness of beauty, and we take delight in the news of the resurrection. Delight that manifests in pastel colors and perhaps a few hats. Delight that manifests in shared feasts and fellowship – of bread and wine around this table – perhaps of ham and deviled eggs around our tables at home.

And on this day, we know that God also takes joy and delight in us. “. . . for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight,” we hear in Isaiah.

God beholds the joy of this day – the joy of the resurrection – the joy of God’s creation and proclaims that it is good. The news – the joy – the delight of the resurrection is for earth and heaven. “Alleluia. Christ is risen.”

So we begin with thanksgiving – with joy and praise on earth and in heaven – and then what’s next? What do we do next with news like this?

In our story today from Luke, we’re offered any of a number of options. Thank God. Thank God for the women. Thank God for the disciples. Because as we hear about what they did next, the first witnesses to this news, we hear that we might just be perplexed. Confusion may rule the day.

As we stand at the empty tomb with the women, the spices of death smirking at our nostrils, our minds – let alone our hearts – may not be able to hold the contradictions of this moment, “Alleluia? Christ is risen?”

Confusion may be what we do next.

And then as messengers from heaven – men in dazzling clothes – angels – come to share more with us about this news, perhaps we add fear to our confusion.

The news of this day is joyful – and it is terrifying. Christ is not here. The tomb is empty, and here in the Gospel of Luke, that is all that we know. Did you notice that in this story? There is no post-resurrection appearance – no Jesus walking or talking with his friends. Those stories are coming in the Gospel of Luke – even later on this same day of resurrection. But they have not happened this morning. There is just the empty tomb and the words from the angels.

Sometimes like the women this morning,  we arrive at the thing that we thought was dead – ready even to attend to its death – to remember it as dead –

the plant or tree that has yet to bloom this season –

the community that we thought was fractured beyond repair –

the passion that we once had for this hobby or that vocation –

but when we arrive – when we arrive to remember the death – something has shifted. Something has changed. A Word has been spoken. The thing is not here. We do not yet know where it is or how it is, but we do know that it is not dead.

What do we do with news like this?

Fear and confusion are more than appropriate responses.

And, we are a people of stories. We tell stories. We listen to stories. We are stories. God is made known to us in stories – in the Word.

What do we do with news like this?

Even as we are shaking in our fear and confusion- standing before the thing that is supposed to be dead but is not here – we remember the stories. That’s what the angels tell the women, “Remember.” Remember what Jesus said – that he would be crucified and on the third day rise again.

Remember the story. Remember the promise – like all of God’s promises: the flood and the rainbow, deliverance across the Red Sea, manna in the desert, return from exile, joy, delight, new heavens and a new earth. Remember the stories. Remember who God is.

And it all becomes a bit more clear. Still terrifying and mystifying – but in all the right ways. In all the life-giving ways. In all of the new creation ways. The women remember.

And then –       What do we do with news like this?

When we remember, we don’t just stand still in our remembering. We return to our community, and we share the news. Even when we are not fully clear on what the news is or what it means, we return and we share. We speak the words of new life, echoing God’s, “Let there be. . .” That’s how the new creation grows. It’s how joy and delight abound. We remember. We return, and we share.

And then, What do we do with news like this? Maybe we run like Peter. Peter hears this news – probably feels the same confusion and fear as the women – probably begins to remember the stories – and then he runs. He runs towards what he cannot believe. He runs towards the ridiculousness of resurrection. He stands before the thing that is supposed to hold death – and he sees that death has been evicted. It is no longer resident in the tomb. The plant is blooming. The community knows grace again. The passion is returning. There is life where there was not life before.

What do we do with news like this?

We stand in awe and amazement that this news is the next part of the story. The next part of our story. The next part of God’s story. We get to be witnesses to this first day of the new creation, and in a world where Christ is risen – our confusion and fear become our praise and thanksgiving – our Alleluia shouted at the pain and darkness of the world.

Because that is the tension of this Easter Day – that the resurrection – the empty tomb – is the first act of the new creation – not the final. It is the beginning of death’s defeat – the promise – the story. Resurrection now lives in the world alongside sorrow and grief and pain and trouble – defying them at every step – with the plant that blooms, with the community that is restored, with the passion that is reignited.

What do we do with news like this? We start with praise and thanksgiving. We follow the women. We follow the disciples. We defy the darkness of the world, like the musician who ran towards the Polish border with Ukraine so that he could play his piano as people fled death and darkness.

He came bearing his own spices – his music to pay homage to the dust. But he did not yet know what God can do with the dust – as the people fleeing death began to sing with him and to make requests – joining their voices to his in songs of resurrection. One musician – one defiant act of creativity – and the stone is rolled away. Alleluia at the border. Alleluia at the tomb.

What do we do with news like this?

Beloveds, Alleluia! Christ is Risen. . .

Year C  –  The Resurrection of The Lord – EASTER  – April 14, 2022  –  The Rev. Elizabeth Langford Farr