April 12 2020 Easter in a time of pandemic
Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia! Live is filled with paradox, it is at the core of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus says, it looks like this, but it really is about this. And in this time in the wilderness, because it feels a lot like wilderness to me, Jesus says, fear not, resurrection happens.
Wandering in the wilderness is not new to our people. In fact it is interesting to note that the plague of the 14th century gave rise to the modern concept of quarantine...it was 40 days, giving rise to the term quarantine, Italian for 40. The flood lasted 40 days, it took 40 years for Moses and the people to get to where they were going, Moses stayed on the mount to get the Commandments for 40 days, Jesus fasted for 40 days, there are 40 days between Lent and Easter.
Quarantine, 40 days, or weeks, or years, is important. It is important in our sacred story, maybe there is something to it for us. Maybe, change happens. We are experiencing in our world change that we can hardly begin to fathom. During quarantine, rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is cleaner because of less pollution, less theft, less murders, the Earth is at rest for the first time in many years.
We are experiencing before our very eyes, death, and resurrection. Our rest, the earth’s rest brings forth new life. Lent has always been a time for us to lay down that which is killing us. This particular Lent, that has been forced upon us. But is it bad? It is hard, that is very true, I long to see you, I long to go wherever I please whenever I please, but is it bad? No, it is not. It is lifegiving.
We have been given another chance. It is like the prophets who call us to repentance. They say to us, look, there is another way, take it. It is like all those dystopian novels I love to read, stories that show and tell us that unless we change our ways, unless we treat this earth with respect, unless we love one another regardless of difference, our earth will fall away, our lives will fall away.
Because you and I both know that death is not the worst thing that can happen, the death of the ways we have always gone about our lives is not the worst thing that can happen. Even in the midst of the tragedy of sickness, even in the midst of this pandemic, death is not the worst thing that can happen. This tragedy breaks our hearts, and it breaks open the possibility that we may live differently.
That is what Jesus does on the cross, Jesus is broken, our hearts and souls are broken open, Jesus bleeds, we bleed, and in those cracks and crevasses, in that brokenness, God’s light and love seeps in. This is resurrection. This is new life. We are given another chance. In the muck and the mess of our lives, we get a glimpse of the healing that Jesus gives us.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb and find the stone rolled back, and the one who sat on the stone said, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised.” They left the tomb with fear and great joy.
You see, Love does win. Sometimes the power of darkness seems so dark, sometimes the sadness leaves our hearts lying in the gutter, but Jesus raises us up. So many have lost jobs, so many have lost lives, and as it so often happens, so many have been raised up to make masks, to find ways to feed people. This life we live embraced in Jesus’ love is not always clear, and it surely is not easy. But we do not live it on our own, we live it as the body of Christ. God is doing a new thing, even the stones will shout out God’s praise.
Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.
While it was still night. While she could not see. While she thought death held sway. While she grieved. While she wept. While it was still dark, resurrection began.