They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they had went in, they did not find the body. The men they saw said to them “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
We have had quite a journey to get to this place, on this night. We followers of Jesus, along with all of the characters who populate this amazing story of love, Peter, Mary, Joanna, have accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem with the shouting of Hosannas. We have watched with horror as the events turned violent. We have been implicated in the apathy that allowed Jesus to be condemned and killed. We sat in the silence and waited as we believed with those very first followers, that Jesus, the one who stood for love, the one who healed others, was dead. That was the end. It looked like failure. It looked like the light went out. It looked like evil won.
This evening began with the affirmation that indeed the light did not go out. There was flame enough to kindle the new fire, and together we sang it back into a roaring flame. We took solace and strength in hearing stories of salvation history. Reminding ourselves of God's creativity, reminding ourselves of God's liberation, reminding ourselves that God puts us back together again after we have fallen apart. Reminding ourselves of our baptism, when Jesus claimed us as God's own forever, and we were marked as God's beloved. And here we proclaim the Alleluias. The Alleluias that fill our hearts and our minds with the love of God and each other, the alleluias that ring through eternity, and that shimmer in our own breath and blood.
With the words, he is not here, but has risen, Mary, and Joanna, and the other Mary, and all the other women, knew. They knew that this man that they had known in life, defeated death. They knew that this man they had loved, was all that had been promised. The temple would be destroyed and raised in three days, on the third day rise again. They knew what it meant. Jesus was where the God they had worshipped since they were children, lived now. Jesus was where God walked, and loved and healed. Jesus whose body was broken on that cross, now is the one who puts us back together again. The women realized that death does not have the final word. They knew that it is in dieing that there is new life.
Our sadness and grief of Holy Week, our brokenness in life, is put back together in this Easter hope. We are Easter people. We are named, like Mary on that first Easter morning, and our lives sing with the love that created us, the love that calls us into being, the love that puts us back together when we break apart, when we miss the mark, the love that changes our very hearts and souls into a new creation. And on our hearts, with the cursive of the healed scars, is inscribed the words, you are loved, broken, healed, love one another.
As Easter people we don't ignore the reality of our lives, in all of the happiness and hurtfulness, in all of the care and chaos, in all of the tenderness and terror. It is never one way or the other, it is always a dance of pain and joy. But we do live this life fully embraced and empowered by this Easter reality, your life matters, it matters now. The reality of the cross and the resurrection shows us that our relationships matter, that dignity and respect matter.
As Easter people we live in the reality that changed the way we are related to one another. Power doesn't win, love wins. Darkness does not prevail, light shines through. Brokenness doesn't end our lives, it only creates the fissures into which God's love can seep.
And as Easter people, as people who have been named by Jesus, we are marked and claimed as God's own. Our hearts and our lives are claimed by the love that heals us, the love that puts us back together, the love that wins. And from that love flows the ministry that God calls us to, love one another.
Now, Jesus dwells with us, and together we are about the business of kingdom building, as Jesus did and does. It is a kingdom in which all are loved, a kingdom in which all are fed. A kingdom in which mercy and compassion rule. A kingdom in which a broken body makes us whole, a kingdom in which the body of Christ makes us a body of Christ.
As we walk out of the doors of this church this evening, our work begins. The body of Christ is at work with God's mission of healing and reconciliation in the world. It is our work of bearing God's love to those who, like us are broken, it is our work of bearing God's love in all places and all times. It is our work of feeding those who are hungry, because we have been hungry. It is our work of mercy and compassion, because we know what it is like to miss the mark.
We are Easter people. We walk this journey of life knowing the amazement of resurrection, and the pain and suffering that precedes it. We are Easter people. We are nourished by the bread and the body that is broken for us. We are Easter people, made whole by the love that wins. Alleluia, Christ is risen.