Easter Sunday April 12, 2020

First, I wish each and every one of you a very happy and a very unique Easter! I am sure that none of us will ever forget this one!
Secondly, I want to say thank you to all those ministering with me today, this is a heroic team effort across miles and technical platforms. I thank Rev. Colleen Woodley, Ingrid Mattsson and Dave Erkens along with our amazing technical director and online presence coordinator, Cassie Erkens. Without this team and — all your prayers, — this would have looked much different. Thank you all so very much.
I would venture to say… That this is not how any of us ever envisioned our Easter 2020 to unfold.
I mean really…. who would’ve ever thought….online, in real time, miles apart, hearts woven together…. It was certainly not in my wildest imagination.
Yet maybe it’s absolutely perfect, Not the being separated from family and friends… but the whole paradigm shift… Maybe this whole experience will help us to get in touch with the experience of the early church in a way that would have never ever been possible.
And I believe in some ways it is a gift… a gift that will help us to discover something about both ourselves and our God! I mean let’s take a step back and look at the whole picture….first from the experience of the Early Church……
Jesus…at least according to the disciples was a pretty kewl guy… I mean he did some awesome things in his life… like helped crippled people walk, lifted others from their shame and their fears, even made one guy see who was blind from birth, and a whole host of other miracles!
He was also a little radical… he seemed to push on the religious authorities and never seemed to want to back down from a good argument. Remember even from an early age he liked to shake folks up by his commentary on scripture… and remember when he was in a particularly sour mood one day and he walked into the temple courtyard and flipped over the merchant’s tables and told them to get out? Just a little radical….
Jesus was also a model of hospitality I am sure the disciples would say Jesus was friendly…. he didn’t seem to care who you were or what you did for a living, he was willing to hang out with almost anyone and even asked about your life, to learn about you….Remember Zacheaus, and the healed leper, and Mary of Magdala and Cornelius….just to name a few… Jesus was genuinely interested in people.
Not a lot of folks are like that. Yet there was something about Jesus that the disciples knew was different.
Not sure what…. but something… there was just something that happened when they hung around Jesus and each other… things looked different.
Jesus was pretty radical for being devout too….
I mean he would eat with you even if you didn’t believe like he did. Pharisees, Saducees, tax collectors, fisher people, rich and poor, Jesus like just hanging out with people. There was something different about him….he kind of lived life his way.
He certainly wasn’t afraid of authorities, and they certainly were not thrilled with him. Jesus was willing to ask some tough questions, struggle with some relevant issues of his day, and even call into question political and religious practices. I think today we might say he may have had an “authority issue”…
So authorities did what they always do when they are confronted with a threat to their own security…the authorities moved to eradicate the threat.
The disciples tried to tell Jesus it would happen…
Jesus did it anyway… It seems Jesus was a bit of a hard head.
In today’s world we would probably say he would have benefited from doing some Toast masters or Dale Carnegie classes, probably would have been given a performance improvement plan from work. And like everyone knows if we tell the High Priest and the Governor that they both have issues, we probably won’t be around long and that was exactly what happened…. they moved to eliminate the threat.
The authorities thought it was over…it would disband this rag tag group if they got rid of the leader…so they did…publicly—with humiliation, crucified in the middle of Passover… He was dead…they made sure…sword in the side remember…. sure he said he would come back, but we all say stuff like that… So the women go to the tomb…. it’s what we always do… especially when someone dies on the Sabbath… as soon as they could they head to the tomb to anoint his body…
AND right here is where our similarities and theirs begins to really blossom…..
You see things were going like they are supposed to go…
None of Jesus’ followers were happy with the outcome… but they were doing what they always did…. Same for us right…. up until somewhere in the middle of March…March 13th A Peace Time Emergency Declaration…. Up to that point we were just kind of going along doing what we always do.
Some of it good, other parts of it maybe a little challenging, but we were riding the rollercoaster of life.
I don’t know about you….but I never expected being on this roller coaster that all of a sudden we would find that a large piece of the track would be totally missing… Covid19 hit like the earthquake did for the women on the way to the tomb…. it shook up everything and nothing will ever be the same.
We will probably never hug exactly the same way… we will forever experience at a cough or sneeze in a profoundly different way.
Many, many years from now, we will still be talking about breweries making hand sanitizer, and car companies making ventilators. Fear flourishes for us, just as it did for the early disciples….
Do not be afraid the Angel said….. familiar words for familiar circumstances.
You see my friends, for the early disciples as just for us… things weren’t supposed to be this way.
The women were doing what they always do… earth quakes were terrifying, angels descending from heaven even more so… stone rolled away…..it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
This was not what was supposed to happen.
The disciples were doing what they thought needed to be done to honor his passing.
Earthquake wasn’t on the radar…..Angels…were a little out of the ordinary to say the least and I mean really who in their right mind would take the body of someone who was just crucified?
You see, the world of the early disciples was blown open just as ours has recently been.
I would venture to say that I like many of you often find myself saying…
It’s just not supposed to be like this….
And yet it is and we are left to make sense of it….
We are blest to have these words to fall back on…
The angel told the women and the angel is still telling us the same thing….Do Not Be Afraid…..I am going before you….. Not easy to remember when we are losing jobs, or our loved ones and friends are dying, or we can’t be with someone out of fear of transmitting something we cannot see….
Yet it is a mantra, which I think is worth repeating….Do Not Be Afraid….I am going before you!
When we walk away from this prayer today, we can at least carry this tool in our back pack….Do Not Be Afraid….I am going before you!
When things seem out of control… when the only thing we know is that something else is going to change and we don’t know what it is….. when it feels like the future is bleak and the Sun seems hidden from sight…those words will help us…… Do Not Be Afraid….I am going before you!
Then like the disciples on the road to Emmaus… as we are walking along with each other…. discussing, arguing, struggling, trying to make sense of the latest news or the next theory… just maybe Jesus will appear… and we won’t recognize it until after it happens…. because it will be in simple symbols like bread and wine…the email we received, the phone call we got, the story of someone giving their life so that someone else can live…
Yet I do know this, with absolute confidence, if we look, if we stay attentive, even in our fear and sorrow and doubt and confusion…we will find the hands and feet of Jesus showing up…
Who knows… we might even recognize Jesus showing up online…
Remember St. Paul said…nothing…absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, no height, no depth, no angel, principality or power…nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in
Christ Jesus!
You see, I believe beyond any shadow of any doubt that each and every one of us is being called in this moment to be Christ for each other and for our world… isn’t that awesome! Welcome to the Resurrection!
Happy Easter my friends!