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Sometimes we’ll see something and then wonder aloud – did I really just see that? It could be a sports highlight; Weston Dressler makes an outstanding catch in the end zone – and we look at it in disbelief, wondering: did I really just see that?! Earlier this week for the first time in a while I saw about a half dozen deer right next to front door of the church and beside the house. I was in my car and fortunately I had my camera with me. And they didn’t get scared away but let me take a bunch of pictures. Again, I was amazed – did I really just see that, here in town, so close to the church?
I think we can begin to get a sense of what was going through the minds of the women and the apostles on that Easter morning. The women were terrified in the sight of the angels and couldn’t begin comprehend what they were seeing until is was explained to them. To the apostles, this seemed like an “idle tale, and they did not believe the women.” Then Peter goes and checks it out for himself, and seeing it for himself, he went home amazed.
Did I really just see that?
The fact that a person could be murdered on a cross – the most feared instrument of death that the Romans had – and then on the third day come back to life: this is something that’s unheard of. This is a game changer! The fact that Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, came in human flesh, and died for all of us, and then returned from the dead in glory – this changes absolutely everything!
We need to be completely amazed, once again, at what’s happened here. Death no longer has the last word! By the mercy of Jesus and the power of his victory, sin does not have the last word! Life and love and glory have the last word.
I mean, this resurrection – and we’ll be hearing more stories about it over the course of the Easter season – this resurrection of Jesus so completely changed the lives of his disciples that, once they were empowered by the Holy Spirit, they went out and proclaimed Jesus to the ends of the earth. And so we are here today, because of their witness. Because they were so amazed by what they had seen that they couldn’t help but live it and share it with everyone.
We need to be similarly amazed, once again! The love of God has triumphed over everything. And we are a part of that triumph! As we heard from the prophet Baruch in that stunningly poetic reading tonight, even all of creation, all of the four-footed creatures – like a deer or perhaps a certain dog owned by a certain priest – and even the stars themselves tremble before the glory of Christ’s triumph.
This amazing reality of the glory of God is here. The fact that we are here, the Church on earth, even after nearly 2000 years testifies to it. God is at work, mightily, powerfully, lovingly in our community. He is at work in our very souls. His desire it is to transform every last one of us from the inside-out. He died and he rose and he lives in glory, and he’s prepared a place for you and me.
We have been given light today. We have been given hope today!
True hope consists in this, that even though our earthly bodies will one day rest in death, that’s not the end; they will rise again in Christ Jesus!
True hope also consists in this: that there is no situation that is beyond the reach of the awesome power of the love of God. And, by God’s grace, one day “all shall be well!”
And not only that: God’s mercy is at work even now, today. Morning by morning his mercy is ever new, as proclaimed by that incredible hymn from the Book of Lamentations.
Therefore we as baptized members of Jesus Christ have a solemn duty to share that mercy and that faith with others. We cannot hold inside of ourselves the gift we’ve received. If we allow ourselves to be truly amazed, as those disciples were on that first Easter; if we allow the hope of resurrection to truly encounter our lives, then we simply cannot hold that hope within. This gift, this amazement at the reality of the resurrection must be allowed to bubble out, to gush forth, to permeate every aspect of our lives and of our community. When we go to the post office or to the store or walk down the street; when we go out into our workplaces or our schools; when we encounter one another here and in our homes and elsewhere: the amazement of the fact of the resurrection of Jesus must be a part of who we are and of what we bring with us.
Jesus, our God, has truly risen from the dead! An ancient homily from second century puts it so beautifully: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light!”
His light is here! He is alive! And in him, we too are truly and forever alive! May we soak in the amazement of this most monumental of all events, the most important event in the history of the world, the most important event in our lives. And then may we take this life that’s won by Jesus Christ out from this place.
Did we really just see that? Yeah! As a matter of fact, we did. Jesus Christ has died and now he’s risen! Indeed he is risen! Alleluia!
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