St. Paul’s – Easter Sunday – 2/21/21
There are two words that summarize the Biblical experience. They are the words BUT GOD.
The golden thread running through the Bible; this story of God’s redeeming and forgiving love, this story of God’s willingness to act in response to the world’s evil, this story is summed up in the words; but God.
Today we celebrate the ultimate but God moment, the raising of Jesus from the tomb. It is both the proof and the promise of our faith. It reminds us of what God has done in the past while promising to us what God will do in the future.
With both Jesus and the world, the evil trilogy of Sin, Death and the Devil did their best to do their worst. Good Friday appeared to be a complete victory for those forces of destruction which assail all of us, Evil reared its ugly head and roared; and Good stood by idly and did nothing.
Isn’t that just like Jesus? Showing up right where we live, work, play, and carry on. The abrupt ending of the story in v.8 serves to hand off the responsibility for responding to this promise. The women were a good bit terrified and afraid (who wouldn’t be?) They didn’t say anything as they departed. What will we do and say as we depart on this Easter morning?
When the women went to the tomb, they went in deep sadness and despair, they went into a place of coldness and death, they went to a place with no happiness and no hope, they went to prepare a body for burial, they went to put Jesus in his tomb.
But when they got there, they discovered that things had changed, the tomb was empty, the body was missing, and an angel was lurking about. Mary had come upon the greatest but God moment of them all.
Our lives are full of difficulty. Natural disaster strikes, friends die, relatives get sick, jobs don’t pan out, politicians and teachers and yes, even preachers, turn out to be less than they seem or should be. All of life is subject to the painful realities of decline and decay. But Easter reminds us that the church has an answer, and that answer is God; God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s power, God’s calling, God’s actions in the world.
Easter is more than a promise of life beyond the grave, of happiness in heaven with our loved ones. Easter is a promise that life is good now, that God’s power is active in this moment, in this place, in our lives. Easter tells us that our eternal life begins now and goes with us through death into God’s future. Easter tells us that for whatever may happen to us in this world there is an answer, and the answer is but God.
The world says; “Seek success and glory and material well-being above all else.” But God says; “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The world says; It’s a dog eat dog world, it’s a rat race. It’s every man (person) for himself. But God says; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The world says, “Find your self, your bliss. Do that thing which makes you feel most fulfilled.”But God says; “You shall love the LORD your God, with all your heart, mind and soul; and the second is just like it; love your neighbor as yourself.”
The world’s way leads to the death of the soul and eventually the death of the body, with no hope for tomorrow and no joy for today. But God’s way leads first to death and then to life; life both now and forever; life full of the joy of loving and serving God and neighbor with reckless abandon and total trust in God’s will and way.
We’ve had the focus on the cross….now we see an empty tomb…and the but is in verse 7—but go.…go on with life…..he is going ahead of you…to heaven???? No, to Galilee….right where you live….right where you are….He is going ahead of you, He’s going to be there… in the midst of life….in the midst of things that include both terror and amazement…
This is the world we live in….The world is filled with terror….whether its shootings or the virus or running out of money or any number of things….The amazement is the ways that God does indeed show up….we are indeed helped and blessed.
And so we are going to have to turn on this Easter and say…here we go again….I’m kind of afraid but here we go.
We have four people at various stages in their life who about to be baptized. They need to know and name the But God moments in their life. At the empty tomb they are being told…BUT Go…..Go to Alpine and Marfa because that is where Jesus is for you.
Sometimes they will face those terrifying times and sometimes those amazing times. The reason we are gathered here with Josie Rose, Gavin, Sheila and John is because we have gone ahead and know Jesus is here. We are being called to walk with them in their terrifying times and amazing times and pointing them to the love of Christ. Sometimes they will see and experience Christ’s love directly…other times it will come through your hands and feet and hearts as you support and love them in their journey with Christ.
The empty tomb does not change death…It has everything to do with changing life…..How will Josie Rose, Gavin, John and Sheila their lives knowing they are sealed by the Holy Spirit and Marked as Christ’s own. Forever? They will be given hints and signs by all of you…so my question for you is….How do you live your life knowing that Christ was risen? Our four friends here will be watching…..