They “fled from the tomb” because they were afraid; and “they said nothing to anyone” because they were scared to death. (Mark 16.8) And thus ended the oldest Gospel telling of The Story.
They were so afraid that they told no one. No one. Now obviously, word still got out. We know because, some 2000 years later, we are telling the story again this Easter. But we are certainly telling it in a way that is the complete opposite of the original witnesses of the Resurrection!
As I scrolled through Facebook leading up to Easter and again on Easter morning, I noticed that no one seemed afraid to shout and celebrate and proclaim that, “He is Risen!” We want to tell everyone this Good News.
But a good many of those folks who proclaimed Jesus so loudly during Easter, won't talk about him much anymore until next Easter. The very opposite of what happened 2000 years ago - when word got out, but only gradually and somewhat timidly. And I’m wondering if we would do well to be a little more afraid of proclaiming this Good News. Because, let’s face it, it is a radical way of living should we choose this Jesus life.
I have a theory that that this is how the Bunny got added to Easter. We got too afraid of the Jesus way, so - let’s add a bunny rabbit! The original witnesses were initially too afraid to tell it, but clearly they came around and they came to understand what this would mean for their way of living. The irony is that we don’t seem to be afraid of shouting it and celebrating it, but I do think there are many who are afraid to talk much about it once Easter Sunday has come and gone. And most of us, if we are honest, are even more afraid to live it.
After we leave church on Easter morning, are we so afraid to tell the Good News that we end up telling no one? It turns out that we may have more in common with those early eye witnesses than we thought! And I’m not just talking about telling no one about Resurrection. I’m talking about all the stuff that led up to his death. You know, the way he lived and what he taught. That’s what we should be afraid to tell.
Resurrection is the easy part. Believing that there is life after death in both literal and figurative ways is not so difficult. It’s the choosing to live like Jesus that scares us to death. Perhaps that is why we make such a big deal out of Easter. Easter is easy. It is convenient. A one and done event. Monday rolls around and we can go back to our normal lives.
He is risen! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
So what? If that’s all you go to hear on an Easter Sunday in Church - so what? If it doesn't change your life - so what?
Let us live like we believe in what Jesus said and how Jesus lived. And let us start by showing no partiality ourselves. I can’t think of a better Easter message than to decide to accept all people as children of God. Period. All. People. Even the ones we don’t like or don’t agree with. Even the people we are afraid of. Even the people that we need to forgive. Or that need to forgive us.
God is the God of all. That is the Easter message. But are we ready to go from Easter service living like we believe it?
I think most folks think of Easter as an event that happened in the past and we celebrate it once per year. But, in truth, Easter just keeps on happening. Every single time we bear witness to Life. The birth of a baby. A caterpillar that bursts into a butterfly. Flowers that bloom in the charred earth that has been ravaged by fire. People that live with Joy even after they seem to have been dealt the worst hand at life. Alcoholics that stop drinking. Every single day that they decide not to take a drink is a Resurrection choice. Homeless people that find shelter.
Do you see that Easter is continuously happening around us? We just fail to name it.
People that bake wedding cakes for gay couples. Nurses that tend Nazi sympathizers. Easter keeps happening. In the strangest of places. Little children in the midst of deep poverty that play ball in the street with shrieks of pure delight. When dreams die and hopes fail and yet new things are born in places where you thought there was nothing good that can come from it – that is Easter.
Our Columbarium here at Park Road is the perfect symbol of this truth. It is a sacred place full of tears – and yet a children’s playground is located directly across the sidewalk from the very place where we go to mourn. Life and death side by side.
And the truth is, you can’t get to the Columbarium without being tempted to play hopscotch on the colorful chalk grid that has been drawn on the sidewalk by little children. Precious young children with a seemingly limitless capacity for celebrating life. New lives that are separated by only a sidewalk from the ashes of those that have gone on before us.
That is Easter.
I know what your are thinking. Every homeless person doesn’t find shelter. Every alcoholic doesn’t stop drinking – but it CAN happen. It DOES happen. And I think that we as Christians too often fail to tell it when we see it. And if we are not willing to tell it - who will? We should be walking around looking for Easter in our midst. Every day. Not just one day a year.
He is Risen! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
So let us all live like it. May it be so. Amen.