Rev. George Miller
Easter; March 31, 2013
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Written by William Shakespeare, spoken by Macbeth, these are cold words of dark hopelessness, in which life is equated to nothing more then an actor who leaves the stage or a candle that is snuffed out.
They are the words of one who has confused political power and desire for domination with the light of day and the joy of “enough” that simply comes from being in love.
Pointlessness pervades; it is the same sense of pointlessness that existed on Friday when Jesus died upon the cross, feeling forsaken by God. A pointlessness which consumed Saturday as the disciples hid in fear and the women waited to anoint a dead body.
Jesus’ life may have looked like a great play, but his curtain call took place on the cross as he commended his spirit to God.
Jesus’ candle may have burned bright, but it has been put out by Pilate and the people.
Logic of the world says that when a candle is put out, its light ceases to exist…
…Today, well today we have gathered to say “Alleluia” and to give thanks that God is not limited by the world’s logic.
That in God’s kingdom, on God’s heavenly stage, even when a light is put out, its flame can still continue to burn, its light can still illuminate the world.
Especially when that light is called Jesus; Emmanuel!
Because friends, visitors, seekers and members of the community, in God the light of life is stronger then the darkness of death!
And that is what we celebrate this morning.
Since December we have spent most of our time following the birth and life of Jesus as told to us in the Gospel of Luke.
Luke tells us that after Jesus was wrongfully crucified, the women, seeing where his body was laid, went home to prepare the spices. Following Jewish tradition, they waited until Sunday, when the Sabbath was over. Then, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb to anoint Jesus; Mary Magdalene, Johanna, Mary his mother, and others.
But the stone is rolled away; they are perplexed. Two men stand beside them. “He is not here, but has risen. Remember, how he told you…that…on the third day he would rise again.”
The women remembered Jesus’ words, so they go and tell the disciples and the rest.
There is a sense in reading this that Luke wants to bring attention to the act of memory. It’s as if he’s saying that part of faith is based on the ability to remember.
Not blind trust, not saying a few choice words to be redeemed, but to remember, to recall, to reflect upon.
But sometimes remembering is not the easiest thing. When we experience great trauma, it’s hard to remember, especially the good times.
When we encounter duress, it is not so easy to remember. People find it difficult to recall the successes they’ve had and the miracles they’ve encountered.
As we age and grapple and quest to survive, it is not so easy to remember.
It’s not even the big things, but the little things. Who can recall what they ate for lunch yesterday? Who can recall what they read on Wednesday?
Who can recall what was even preached last week?
Yet, at the tomb the women remember and once they do, they find the courage to go on.
For me, this year, this is the Easter miracle.
Not that God raised Jesus from the grave. Our God is an awesome God. Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?
But for me, the miracle is that the people remembered. Plain, ordinary, every day folk not that much different from you and I.
In the midst of everything, the chaos, the loss, the confusing reality, they remembered, and in the act of remembering, the Resurrection made sense.
It’s by remembering that everything which had come before became even clearer and now they understand what Jesus meant; that what Jesus had tried to teach them was true and truly mattered.
Remember that when Zechariah and Elizabeth were old and childless, God made a promise to give them a son, and God followed through.
Remember that even though Mary was young and poor, God was able to work through her to do a marvelous thing.
Remember that even though there was no place for them in the inn, a manger and visiting shepherds were enough to welcome the birth of our Lord.
Remember that when Jesus, famished and alone, was offered the world by Satan he still said “No!” because in God he already had enough. (Luke 4:1-13)
Remember, that according to Luke, Jesus’ 1st public words of ministry was that he would bring good news to the poor, proclaim release of the captives, and let the oppressed go free. (Luke 4:16-30)
Remember that Jesus told a story about a father whose love was so great that he ran to his son and welcomed him with kisses even though the young man had squandered everything away. (Luke 15:11-32)
Remember how Jesus had a lowly donkey untied and used him so as to fulfill a prophecy of peaceful action. (Luke 19:29-40)
Remember the good: the teachings, the ministry, the meals shared, the healings, the lives touched, the people transformed.
The Resurrection allowed the women and the disciples to remember, and by remembering they acted.
They ate meals together. They ministered. They shared. They did what Jesus had called them to do.
In doing so, the light of Christ continues and the flame from his candle remains lit and burns brightly even 2 millennia later.
Is it a miracle that God raised Jesus from the grave? Yes! Is it also a miracle that the people remembered? Yes!!
In conclusion, we as a community of Christ have made it through the darkened days of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
We have witnessed the evil that men and women do; we have worried if indeed God has forsaken us.
But today, today we have come to the tomb, we have found the stone rolled away, we have heard the Good News, and we have remembered.
And in the act of remembering we are reminded that we are not poor players, merely shadows on a stage.
We now know that no matter how dark the night may seem, no matter how long the weekend may last, in Christ the flame still shines.
In Christ each season has a meaning. Our yesterdays all matter, and our to-morrows carry dreams yet to be imagined.
In the Resurrected Christ our sound and fury is replaced by music and light, signifying everything; to the last recorded syllable of time.
Alleluia and amen!