Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

16 Apr

Sermon for Easter, Year B – 4/8/12 – St. Peter’s, Kasson, MN
The Rev. Colin Maltbie, Preacher

 

Alleluia! Christ our Lord is Risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!
  Alleluia!

As many of you know this is not just my first Easter Sunday sermon with you all, but my first Easter Sunday sermon ever… so the pressure is on… one of my friends, who grew up Roman Catholic but is no longer practicing, sent me an email of support, saying, “this is like the Super Bowl for you all isn’t it?”

Easter is a big deal.  The focus of our liturgical year… Jesus, the son of God is the fulfillment of the Hebrew scriptures… Jesus, God incarnate, the perfect revelation of God’s nature, of God’s love and compassion, was killed… his message too radical for those in power… but Jesus Christ our Lord is Risen!  God’s love cannot be overcome…

Easter is also a time for family and friends to gather and for us to celebrate together as a larger community…  It is wonderful to see so many children in this place… and to see some new faces…  welcome to you all…

Did you know that the Gospel of Mark has two endings?  We read the “original” ending this morning… you might have noticed that even though an angelic messenger is present in the tomb to assure Jesus’ mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene, and Salome that Jesus has been raised, Mark does not include any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus.

A second “longer” ending, thought to have been a later addition, does include such post-resurrection appearances, as well as the commissioning of the disciples that we have come to expect by the authors of the other Gospel accounts…

I think of Thomas, Doubting Thomas, who, according to John’s Gospel account, needed to touch Jesus’ wounds in order to believe… This second ending in Mark’s account gives us that much-needed confirmation of the resurrection and of Jesus’ triumph over death…  and a more concrete sense of purpose about the kind of work we are to do and the kind of life we are to live in Christ…

But the “original” ending, that we read this morning, leaves us a bit unsettled… it ends with the women fleeing from the tomb, “For terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

The “original” ending I think reflects our reality more closely…  we as faithful Christians, as a people who have their hope in the Resurrection of Jesus, we stand in two worlds… with one foot planted in the glorious Kingdom of God, and one foot rooted in the cares and troubles of the world…  By our baptism we are challenged to live fully into a new life as members of the Body of Christ, to engage more fully in God’s work of love and compassion, but it is often difficult to accept that challenge… it is often difficult to live out the vows we made at our baptism… we are often too preoccupied by worldly concerns, and focused on what limits us instead of on the limitless potential available to us when we align our lives with God in Christ… together.

We have the power to choose life over death…  we have the power to choose compassion over anger…  we have the power to forgive our enemies… we can choose to see light in times of darkness… we can choose to ignore the nagging voices that remind us only of we cannot do… that tell us only how worthless we are… and we can instead choose to listen for the still, small voice of God which reminds of our true identity as beloved children of God, and that reminds us of our giftedness and of our immense value to God and the world…

In our lives we have been comforted by such messengers as the one who appeared to the women… people in our lives who have served as witnesses to God’s glory and Resurrection hope…  those who comfort us in times of grief… those who help us to see a problem from a new perspective, opening up for us a whole new set of options…  and I am extremely grateful for those who have invited me to walk with them through serious illness, or through their process of dying, of letting go…  who have shown me how to live in faith, and how to die with grace, in hope of freedom, of new adventures ahead…

We have all been blessed by such experiences in our lives which have confirmed God’s presence with us…  and the amazing life of the world to come…  Christ died for our sins so that we can live free from fear and live into love…  We are a resurrection people…  we believe that death is not a door closing but an opening into new and even more wonderful life…

Have faith sisters and brothers…  believe in God…  live in assurance that God is continuing to transform the world… that God continues to restore and renew all of Creation back to its original wholeness…  an undercurrent of God’s creative loves flows eternal… interconnecting all of Creation, binding all of Creation together in love…  this work of love and compassion, of building up is God’s mission…  and we are called to engage in God’s mission, to align our lives with God in Christ… to be bearers of the Good News that God’s Kingdom is here… that God’s Kingdom is for us all…

The following prayer, found in our Book of Common Prayer, has been attributed to St. Francis… it reflects the benefits of a life committed to building up and setting free… committed to loving and to serving God and one another… in preparation for the life to come…

Let us pray:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

Alleluia! Christ our Lord is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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