Easter Day

Text appointed for today can be found here

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In Which, We Rise!

On the first day of the week, they woke up thirsty. Drinking from a clay cup, and eating a bit of bread. Their bodies demanded sustenance.

On the first day of the week, they woke up with the dawn and slipped their feet into the sandals they’d left at the door. Then, one foot in front of the other, they lived as they’d always lived.

On the first day of the week, they wondered what they would say to to those who’d be sure to say, “I told you so.” They felt ashamed.

On the first day of the week, they were stricken yet also angry. They had hoped so much, given so much. And, now this.  Now this.

On the first day of the week, they knew what had happened but not what they would find.

Yet, having arisen from the pain, knowing that there wasn’t much beyond keeping on, keeping on, they went.

They took their broken hearts and bitter tears and went.

They took the fragrant spices.

They took their fear.

And, they went to the grave.

There to offer a final gift to close out this beautiful and terrible chapter of their lives.   

There, to anoint the desecrated body of the one who had breathed his last while they looked on.

And, they braced themselves for the stink of the grave and the emptiness of death.

And, then, and then, an empty tomb and a question...

"Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Why?  Why?!  Because he died, I was there. I was there and I saw him cry out. I was there and I saw it happen.  And, now you ask me why?

Fear and anger converged. And, yet even then, hope!

“He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again."

Dare they believe, how can they believe?

But, to remember. To remember. Is an empty tomb and memory enough on the first day of the week?

Is it enough, or is it everything?

Will the memory sustain us?  Will the evidence present itself? Will we learn to look for life in those places we thought only to find death?

One need only to watch the news, or open the pages of the newspaper to know that we walk in hard times, we walk in painful times, we walk in a time of unprecedented wealth and unprecedented need.

The burden of the cross is all too real.

The fear is all too palpable.

To hope seems ludicrous. And, yet, this hope is our calling.

Because to rise up, in the face of all that would destroy us, it to proclaim our hope and a new way.

A new life.

A life grounded in the expectation that love does in fact win. That peace will in fact prevail. That the truth of the awful will make way for the in breaking of all that is good.

A life in which we rise because he rose. A life in which we love and act and live and breathe because he did. A life in which we work for justice and mercy and peace and liberation because we know such things are possible.

A life, this very life, lived so that someday every downtrodden person, every exploited, broken and hurting person in this world can proclaim in full voice.

He is risen! 

And, until such a time that all are free, we will wait and work and live so that we might be a beacon of hope to all who would stand terrified at the grave.

In this is our calling, this gathered body we call the body of Christ, the risen body of Christ. And as this holy and sacred body, we will rise because he rose.  As this holy and sacred body we will abide by the command to love and in that love gather together the broken and the breaking, the hateful and the hated, the oppressed and the oppressor, into the fullness of God’s love.

That is what it is to be a resurrection people, to offer hope, to offer life, to offer an audacious claim that the life we have is not all the life there is. 

Defiant hope, beautiful truth and death defeated! The cross is empty and he is risen and in response the people rise! 

All the people, all the people, all the people! Lifted up and lifting into the light of the new day! 

Poet Maya Angelou gave voice to the defiance of this claim to life, in what I truly consider to be an Easter poem,

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Let all the people say,
Amen!

Amen!




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