Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday - It Is Not Finished

Acts 10:34-43 or
Jeremiah 31:1-6
Psalm 118
Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts (above)
John 20:1-18 or
Matthew 28:1-10

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

By the time Easter morning comes around, if I am being honest, I am ready for Holy Week to be over. No matter how many times I have read the familiar verses, as I meditate on them I learn something new. I know what events we recall each day of the week and I know the outcome, but the exercise of reflection and meditation on those events, takes me through an emotional whirlwind. We know the whole story, and there is more to come, that even the closest followers did not know. They knew the body was gone. Some who visited the tomb came back claiming to have seen Jesus and angels. They still had as many questions and those skeptical about the disposition of the body likely had more fear. This Easter Sunday we proclaim joy and confidence in the guarantee of our salvation, but on that first Sunday the faithful were left with even more questions, a different kind of sorrow (at losing the body), while some experienced the thrill of having encountered Jesus.

The lectionary gives us the choice of resurrection narratives from John or Matthew. The passages vary in detail and focus, but the point of each is the same: the tomb was empty. John 20:9 points out that the disciples still did not understand the prophecies and Jesus’s teaching about the purpose for and events around his death. We get the annotated version of the story with footnotes and analysis (and the perspective of time), but the disciples endured it all in real time, with details emerging throughout.

Jesus’s ministry played out in much the same way I tell a story when I get really excited: “This happened and then that happened. Oh don’t forget about….” Different people were present for different events. No two sermons or lessons were presented to the same crowd. Everyone had part of the story so finding the disciples struggling with confusion only reflects that they were humans. All week the scripture texts have presented the influence of human nature on the individuals involved. Human nature does not make anyone wicked. Human nature does not make anyone holy. Human nature does not limit the choices available to us, but the choices we make reflect the core values of our human nature.
We use the occasion of Easter worship to proclaim victory for life and defeat for death as Scripture (mostly the Epistles) has taught us. We stand on that conclusion with the perspective of centuries, yet, we still have as many questions as the disciples in that day. Life may have won. Death may have been defeated. We all still have a lifetime to navigate before we experience that outcome for ourselves. As I live, I still ask, “where’s the body?” Seeking Christ does not end at the resurrection, it begins.

He is risen!

Now what?