Easter 3A

As always, the readings appointed for the day can be found at http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearA_RCL/Easter/AEaster3_RCL.html

+++

Deep Magic, A Deeper Faith

"Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?" asked the Witch.

"Let us say I have forgotten it," answered Aslan gravely. "Tell us of this Deep Magic."

"Tell you?" said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. "Tell you what is written on that very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the firestones on the Secret Hill? …You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill...that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property..."

They claimed his blood as their property. Piercing his side, wounding him beyond repair. And, that is what his friends knew. They knew of his death, they knew that those in positions of power had used that power to destroy the one in whom they’d placed their hope. They knew this to be true. And, so when they encountered a stranger who did not know they were astonished.

Didn’t everyone know that death had destroyed him?

“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.” 

Yes, how he knew! But, what his friends did not know, was that the blood the people had claimed was blood that was given freely. And, in the gift, the crime itself was overturned.

“The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan...

"Who's done it?" cried Susan. "What does it mean? Is it magic?"

"Yes!" said a great voice behind their backs. "It is more magic." They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane…stood Aslan himself.

"Oh, Aslan!" cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.

"Aren't you dead then, dear Aslan?" said Lucy.

"Not now," said Aslan...

When Jesus was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
They recognized him, not by any signs or wonders, but in the simple act of his presence in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.

And, they wondered, wondered how this had come to pass that they now knew with their eyes what their hearts had known all along. They wondered what it would mean for them, and for their future.

"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

"It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know: Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitors stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards..."

What does this mean?

When C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, he firmly set the plot and the people therein within the context of his theological understanding of the Cross and the Resurrection. And, Susan’s question becomes the question of the disciples themselves…what does this all mean?

What happens when death works backwards? In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia the powers of evil are overthrown and those bound by those powers are released. Likewise, we ourselves proclaim that in Jesus’ resurrection, all who have been bound from death are released. In our worship we witness to the torn curtain of the temple, and the earthquake that Easter morn, we witness to the empty tomb, and road to Emmaus. And, in this, we are inspired to hope that those altars of stone, those places where people are destroyed by the pursuit of power at any and all cost, that all of these will be broken. The power of evil will not have the last word—but life itself will. And, the lion rampant will roar and the people cry out!

For, when death works backwards, we need not fear death.

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

In our Easter proclamation that Christ is risen, we ourselves issue forth a manifesto to the death and life-denying forces at work within our own communities and in the wider world. We stand up to those forces by proclaiming that no one can take away the blessing that is so freely given to all of God’s children. And, that no matter how hard those death dealing forces struggle to destroy our hope, that our hope cannot be taken from us.

And, out of this hope we ourselves become the hope that stands up to the powers of death proclaiming a new life that cannot be destroyed. And, when we show up and speak up for the poor, for people of color, women, children, the differently abled, the LGBTQ community, refugees, immigrants, teenagers, the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions—when we show up for these, the least of these, we ourselves become the physical manifestation of our eternal hope. In this, we give witness to the life that can never die. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyr of the Church, was a witness to this. In a Sermon given on the scriptural passage detailing Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, Bonhoeffer notes, 

“The mighty Herod is dead without having attained his goal, but Jesus lives. This keeps happening in the history of the church. First misery, persecution, mortal danger for the children of God, for the disciples of Jesus Christ, but then came the hour in which it was said: “They are dead.” Nero is dead, Diocletian is dead, the enemies of Luther and the Reformation are dead, but Jesus lives, and with him live those who are his. The age of persecution suddenly comes to an end, and it becomes clear: Jesus lives.”

Bonhoeffer, a man who was imprisoned and executed by order of Hitler, was secure in his belief that the forces of evil in this world would pass away and beyond their passing would remain the living Christ. 

If Bonhoeffer were alive today, I imagine he would be quick to remind us that Hitler is dead--and, the love of Christ endures.

Christ endures in every and any place, where we go as the body of Christ. An Easter people whose hearts are burning with the knowledge that we are part of the always living and never dying body of Christ. We are the life and the light that will have the power to persevere beyond the power of any and all persecution. 

We need to hear, we need to know, that those who oppress and destroy in the now will be overcome by the inevitable then. We need to hear this now, just as the fledgling congregation addressed in 1st Peter needed to hear it then.

There is general consensus amongst scholars that the 1st letter of Peter was written during the persecution under the Emperor Nero. And, the author of the letter intends to offer hope and encourage endurance in the face of suffering.

The author of Peter establishes Christ as existing beyond the limits of time, “He was destined before the foundation of the world” and in this, Christ transcends the persecutions of this age and offers a future in which love takes precedent over all. This is the hope that they needed, this is the hope that we need. This is the law of love.

A deeper law. A law before the dawn of time.

Jesus lives.

And so, too, do we.

Amen.













Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Proper 21C, Rent Asunder

The Lost Found

Proper 13C, In Which I Preach Another Sermon About Hope While Feeling Pretty Darn Hopeless