Genesis 1:1-2:4a † Response Psalm 136:1-9, 23-26 † Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 † Response Exodus 15:1b-13, 17-18 † Isaiah 55:1-11 † Response Isaiah 12:2-6 † Ezekiel 36:24-28 † Response Psalm 42:1-11 and 43:1-5 † John 20:1-18
Do you remember now? Do you see that this age, this time, these struggles are no match for the Holy who moves and lives and breathes and thunders both within us and far beyond our human reach?
We kept it short tonight—I know, that may surprise you! There are so many more stories that speak of possibility when only threat is visible, of light when it is still dark, of hope when all around us injustice and struggle are so apparent. The thing is we have been this way before. Many times! And by we, I mean this ragtag, imperfect, stiff-necked and selfish human history of which we are part and parcel. They is us. And we are them.
That’s the point of the invitation to enter into these stories as Easter people. We aren’t play-acting here. We’re not trying to recreate or resurrect something from the past. Just like the tellers of these stories, we know the struggle. We know the difficulty. We know that social isolation and unfair systems and broken promises and greed and threats both veiled and laid bare are a part of the deal when it comes to being human. These stories are full of this knowing. And we are not naïve to the reality and our place in it.
These stories we’ve remembered and rehearsed and retold tonight are important because they enlighten our own stories. They speak to this wild and chaotic and yet coherent creation that always seems to be just “that much” beyond our knowing and our grasp. They speak of being vulnerable, but scrappy journeyers through dangerous waters and uncertain shores. They speak of being dreamers who can imagine a better way and a better day. And they know that sometimes we even find our way to that far-off kingdom of good governance and neighborliness where everyone who is thirsty and hungry can buy and eat—wine and milk and chocolate and all sorts of rich foods—without price, in a generous landscape where people are put before profits and nations become color-blind. We can find our way to it because it lives within us—in the Spirit of God that dwells there, that inspires, and enlivens, and resurrects old bones and dusts-off discarded expectations.
Do you remember?
We’ve been this way before, you and I. We know this journey. We’ve lived it together over the years and we’ve had those moments, again and again and again, when we’ve seen what’s possible, when we’ve been our best selves, when we’ve rinsed ourselves of what is unclean and wretched and death-dealing and created something new, discovered new life and new possibility. Seen the holy in our brother and sister, our friend and neighbor, those who are strange to us, and even our enemies. When we’ve moved from fury to forgiveness to freedom.
We know this way. We know this life. We know that goodness is stronger than evil, and love is stronger than hate. We know that life is stronger than death and resurrection—just like the Springtime bursting around us—is to be expected with this God and this life. We know that the moment is only a moment—especially as we care for one another within it.
Surely, you’ve noticed that these very death-dealing times we are in have erupted with creativity and ingenuity, and just plain goodness. Did you hear about the actor John Krasinski from the office and the Jack Ryan Netflix series? He and his wife Emily Blunt reunited the original cast of Hamilton to perform via Zoom for a 9-year-old who missed her chance to see the Broadway show because of the current pandemic. They did it just because they could.
And have you heard about all the people making masks and wearing them? Have you heard about the nightly serenades and the clapping for medical workers and other caregivers who have themselves demonstrated such remarkable generosity and skill?
Of course you have. And you have your own stories too. You are living them. You know the power not just to be kind, but to do good, to be fair, to overcome injustice, and to transform our world. You know that we have it in us, because you know that God is in this story.
Children of God, beloved siblings, we know that Christ is raised. We believe in God, merciful and mighty Lord, maker of earth and heaven. We believe in Jesus and in the power of faithfulness to bring life from death. We believe in the Spirit because we have experienced God’s life-giving power too many times to give up on it for long.
We have seen the Lord, and it is enough. It is enough.
Thanks be to God.
A video version is available here.
St. Andrew Sermons