Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sermon, Easter Vigil, Luke 24:1-12

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb.  They were met there by two men, most likely angels, who asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

After hearing this, the women remembered the words of Jesus.  They remembered his words that he would rebuild this temple in three days.  They remembered his words that he would be in the ground three days like Jonah was three days in the fish.  They remembered his words that he would rise again after three days.  They remembered.  And they left the tomb, returned to the disciples, and told them what they had seen and heard.

Luke records that it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and other women who returned and told all this to the disciples.  They didn’t just tell of the empty tomb.  They told All This.  All This includes the empty tomb.  All This includes the angels.  All This includes the words of Jesus that predicted his death and resurrection.

All This.  The tomb is empty!  Angels told us Jesus lives.  They reminded us that Jesus said he would be crucified and rise again on the third day.  We remembered the words of Jesus about Jonah in the fish, about the raising up of the temple.  We remember All This and it’s true!  The tomb is empty!  Jesus lives!

This is good news.  This is worth telling people about.

How many of you here today will follow the women’s example?  How many of you will leave here and go tell people that the tomb is empty and Jesus lives?

That many, huh?

Why?  Or, why not, as the case may be.  Why aren’t we all leaving this place where we celebrate the risen Christ and telling people all that we have seen and heard here?

My guess is that it is because of what happens next that saps our enthusiasm.  My guess is that we don’t want to be faced with the same reaction that greeted the women whey they told the eleven disciples about All This.  because when they told the disciples about All This, it seemed to the men to be nothing but an idle tale.

We don’t want to risk that reaction.  We don’t want All This – the fire, the procession, the movement from dark to light, the flowers, the incense, bells, hymns, Alleluias!, and the JOY – we don’t want All This to be heard as just another idle tale.

Both reactions, however, are typical.  The women are excited after seeing the empty tomb, talking to angels, and remembering what Jesus said about his own resurrection.  That is a story worth telling.  And in their telling of All This, they wanted the disciples to get just as excited as they were.

The disciples, though . . . not so much.  All This seemed to be an idle tale that was too fantastical to believe.  And after seeing what the authorities did to Jesus, they weren’t about to believe it.  Skepticism was probably a good thing at this point.

Peter, however, while not believing, does run to the tomb.  An inkling of belief begins to settle in.

In the women, the disciples and Peter we can see how important experience is to our faith.  The women experienced the empty tomb and the remembrances of Jesus’ words, and they believed.  The disciples had no experience, yet, so they did not believe.  Peter experienced the excitement of the women, saw the empty tomb, and began to believe.

How do you experience All This?  as you participate in these mysteries, do you experience a sense of the holy?  As you participate in the Easter celebration, do you experience the joy of the resurrection?  Or do you have a little bit of Peter in you where you see All This, but go home amazed without telling anyone?

Ours is a participatory faith.  I’ve often ended Easter sermons with the admonition to go tell someone.  This year, however, instead of simply telling people about the resurrection, invite people to experience it.  Invite people to experience the resurrection in the holy mysteries of the liturgy, in the experience of a faith community, and in the experience of a thousand little miracles that come from knowing death no longer has a hold on us.

So come and experience what the women experienced.  Come experience the empty tomb.  Come experience the words of Jesus.  Come experience the mystery.  Come experience the joy of new life.  Come experience the joy of shouting, “Alleluia!  Christ is risen!”

And then offer to share the experience with someone.  Because it is in the experience of All This where disciples are made.

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, our experience tells us that Jesus is not found among the dead, but among the living.  And that should be worth sharing.

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!


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