There’s a lot of hyperbole in this world. Everything nowadays seems like it’s over the top, like we’re competing for either the most shocking or sentimental or sad or happy.
You know the taglines of the videos that float around Facebook: “This man decided to propose to his girlfriend, what happened next will LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS.” “This child decided to build a sandcastle, what she did next will BLOW YOUR MIND.” Hmm…blow mymind, or mildly amuse me for a few minutes? Either one.
Maybe we’re just a bit jaded, but in this age of spectacle, there’s not much that really fazes us. The reaction to most things today is a collective “Meh…”
Which brings me to Easter. Yes, this holiday. The day when the faithful turn out in their spring best. The day when the less-than-faithful show up too, maybe to get their parents off their backs or catch up. Whether it’s with a shrug or a smile, we are here in church and that’s at least a step in the right direction, yes?
Now, I wish that I could say that whatever happens next will LITERALLY STUN YOU. But you know, it’s the same old story, right? Jesus is risen, yay! Now on to Easter lunch and, for me, a nice long Easter nap.
So perhaps what we need to look at things from a different perspective with fresh eyes. Perhaps we need to put ourselves in Mary Magdalene’s shoes here.
She has come to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for a final burial, to say her last goodbyes. But what she finds—well, the stone to the tomb has been rolled away. Someone has been messing with the tomb! And suddenly, a man comes down, descending from the clouds, making quite the fashion statement: we’re told that his appearance was like lightning and his clothing white as snow.
Now this is probably a moment when we can literally be speechless. Imagine it, Mary with her mouth wide open and her eyes wide. This is not going as planned. This is not the way it’s supposed to work!
And Mary was afraid. I think fear is a perfectly appropriate response here. How often do we fear change? How often do we fear things that are new? And when that change and newness comes directly from heaven, well, that’s a lot to take in.
We have repeated this story so much that it has lost its novelty. It’s lost its shock value. It’s lost its ability to strike us with fear.
Because what this story means is that God is no longer playing by the rules. It means that God will not let death be the final answer. It means that God is willing to turn the whole world upside-down for the sake of love.
We watch those hyperbolic videos, I think, because they provide a welcome distraction from the grim news of the day. So often they have some positive or hopeful spin, and so often everything else does not. War, violence, death, sickness, poverty, faithlessness, broken promises, broken dreams… We are seeking something in our lives to remind us that this is not all there is, that there is reason for hope.
And for most of you here today, this seeking has brought you through those doors. And I would like to say that your search is done. I’d like to tell you that if you sit around long enough and listen to me closely enough, I’ll give you all the answers you need.
But the truth is that when we peer into the empty tomb, when we stand at that threshold and hear the word’s of that dazzling messenger—come face to face with the mystery of the universe, with the mystery of God. The beautiful mystery, the fearful mystery, a mystery that takes a lifetime of seeking and listening and praying to wrap our minds it. And in an age where we have become so cynical about everything, when we think we’ve got everything figured out—that’s something refreshing.
You don’t have to have all the answers to know that God has called you by name. You don’t have to have all the answers to see that God is constantly making renewing your life. You don’t have to have all the answers to know that God loves you for who you are.
So this Easter, let’s put aside our desire to be amazed or entertained or thrilled or have our minds blown. Let’s set aside our need to have all the answers. Instead, let’s stand together and behold the things that God is doing in our lives and in our world—the simple things, the mysterious things. The quiet acts of resurrection—of new life.
Let’s learn together, let’s grow together, let’s argue a little bit together, let’s feast at God’s table together, and let’s go out into the world and serve others, together.
So welcome, one and all, whether you’ve grown up in this church or if you’re here for the first time. Stick around, what happens next…it will literally—well, I won’t go there. Let’s just experience it