Text:  Matthew 28: 1-10

In our hemisphere, and in this part of the continent in particular, Easter coincides with this eruption of blossoming and greening. Trees that through the winter you would swear had had it, are leafing out  and coming back into their glory again.  So here we are amidst all this splendor.  It could get you thinking about resurrection!

And yet, for all this wonder, Easter is more than the return of greenery, the breaking out of blossoms after winter hibernation -- as miraculous and inspiring as that is.  Spring that follows winter, while a gift every time, is anticipated.  We wait for it. We look for it.  We expect it.  We count on it.

Resurrection on the other hand, doesn’t just blow us out of the water, taking us by surprise.  It does something to our perceptual field … our orientation in the world … it rearranges our bearings … gives us new bearings altogether.  There’s this unthinkable dawning of newness where none was thought possible … an intrusion of a way, a future, a life beyond what was even dreamed or longed for.  We no longer live in the same world we once did. 

This is what the Gospel stories --for all their differences in how they relate the story of that first Easter morning -- what they all bear witness to is the earth shattering surprise that death didn’t finish him in that ultimate, final, it’s over way. This is the thing … we search for words to express it … to wrap our minds around it … all of which fail us … but the thing that doesn’t fail us is his abiding presence.  “He will go ahead of you as you make your journey home”  --- that’s the message the women are given that morning at the tomb, first by the angel who greeted them there, and then by Jesus himself as they were on their way.  “Tell my brothers,” he urges them, “when they get home, they will see me.”   

Notice, it’s “my brothers” … the ones who fled; who fell asleep, who couldn’t as much as stay awake with him in his hour of need; who couldn’t even claim to know him.  And yet, there’s not a hint of disowning them.  Instead, what do we hear? “Watch for my companionship!”

Do you see? … this is not Spring after Winter … and please hear me … I’m not dissing for a moment  the gift and sheer goodness of Spring! But resurrection is about the transforming power of God’s love  … opening up life where death has had its way. It’s no mere happy ending, a return to life as it was, or a return of life that was there all along but hiding.  It’s about a beginning ... about a new life, life out of real total death … life that really wasn’t there before at all.

It’s earth-shattering … that’s what the Gospels are trying to tell us as they speak of “suddenly there was a great earthquake”! It’s like arriving on the scene with our best hope being that of bringing some means of soothing to a wretched end, only to be met with the wonder that an unforeseen future is already in motion … that out of a wretched end a new reality is rising.  And we are being summoned to run with it! Toward it!  To open up to it, Love’s transforming power.  To let Christ’s risen presence befriend us, become us, breathe in us, pour through us.

For some years before Dad died, I noticed he had taped this little piece of paper on the lampshade that was beside the chair where he began and ended his day, and where in time, he spent a good deal of his day.  And on this little piece of paper he had typed: begin each day with I KNOW that my redeemer liveth.  Knowing Dad, some days that would prompt him to play that piece from Handel’s Messiah – like on days when he felt the need for  reinforcement; or on days when he felt the urge to lift his heart in praise! And other days, I think that note to himself was there as a reminder to watch for the companionship, to trust the presence and power of God’s love … I think it had a way of orienting him in the world, grounding him in the reality, in the landscape of resurrection.  This is what Easter does to us … it opens up our perceptual field … it allows us to perceive with our hearts what may not yet be visible to our sight.  It re-arranges our bearings, gives us new bearings and so offers us a new way to be in the world … a new way of bearing ourselves and one another with love … a love that would even have us lay our lives down, for another. 

These times that we are in right now, it seems to me that in the face of all this suffering and death, all the isolation and anxiety, there is already emerging among us evidence of love’s power at work. It’s there in our new-found appreciation for our connectedness, igniting our desire for another way, a way that is more generous and merciful, more just, hopeful.  Already there is arising from among us this way of self-giving love, this way of putting ourselves out there in words and song … in small ways and large … even in the risking of life for the sake of the life of others.  We’re glimpsing  a new way of being in our world --socially, economically, politically, religiously – a way that raises up life … not some lives without others, but  all lives.  All of this out of the crisis we are in … is this not God already working a someday resurrection!

At one point in one of his letters, St Paul gets on a roll speaking about this resurrection.  In his imagination it comes to him the sound of trumpets snnouncing resurrection. It’s got me thinking, what about this banging of pots these days. If you haven’t already been part of that at 7’oclock every evening, maybe tonight’s the night to begin on this first day of Easter. And what if gathered up in our pot banging there was more than the message of gratitude for all the untold names and numbers of front-line workers.  What if gathered up in our pot banging was the inspiration of Christ alive … Christ rising in us … breathing in us, breathing through us the dawning of a new day.

Friends, Christ is rising.  Rising indeed.  Alleluia!