RCL – April 8, 2012 – Easter Sunday
Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43
John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8
Peter’s words in the Acts reading stand out for me: I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. How is it that this message is so often overlooked? Would there be as much war and hatred in the world if we took this message to heart?
Easter is the perfect day to reflect on this as we hold all the war-torn places of the world in prayer – Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Mali, and all the other places of conflict and political strife. We live in a world where peace is scarce and peace of mind is increasingly threatened. How on earth do we do what is right when any sane person wants nothing more than to run screaming for the proverbial hills?
There is no easy answer. But there is a simple one: stop staring into an empty tomb. It’s easy to wonder where God is when the world seems to be falling apart – from violent weather to human violence. Jesus is not going to be visible in our laments. There is, of course, nothing wrong with lamenting when there is cause. But Easter is not the day for staring into darkness. Neither Mark’s nor John’s account of the Easter story ends with emptiness and tears. There’s more to it.
There is the deep realization for the women and the disciples that Jesus was not where they thought he’d be. Grief, terror, and amazement took hold. And in John’s account, there is the addition of Mary not recognizing the risen Christ. Not much has changed in the intervening centuries. Jesus is seldom where we think he should be and when we find him, we often fail to recognize him. And there is grief, terror, and amazement. Some of us run away and say nothing for a while and others jump right into telling the story. Either way, the darkness of the empty tomb is left behind and the resurrected Christ is out in the world for us to find in unexpected places.
Like I said, simple but not easy. The world seems to be in worse shape these days and, maybe, in some ways it is. Certainly, environmental issues are worse and the intensity of the storms (tornadoes in Texas) and destructiveness of nature (mudslides in Kenya) serve as reminders of this. And while this is worse, I am not so sure much else really is. There has always been war and violence, poverty and hunger, and disease and despair. I’m not excusing these things. I am not even particularly accepting of them. But I do wonder why. Human beings are capable of so much more than destruction. If we just stop with our partiality. Imagine if we put the technology behind weapons into cleaning up pollution… Or shared agricultural advances with people whose survival might depend on them… Or shared medical knowledge and treatments throughout the world without regard to politics… Not possible? I’ve been told this most of my life. But no one has yet been able to tell me why these things are not possible that does not include words like “greed,” “power,” or “politics.”
We who call ourselves Christian worship a God of abundant life. We spend far too much time playing with the echoes in the empty tomb (doing what we have “always” done) and turning away when Christ does not look like we think Christ should (refusing to let the Holy Spirit lead in new directions). So, let’s go. Run. Feel the grief. Shake with terror. Be seized by amazement. Then do something that will change our parts of the world in big ways or a small ways, but in any way that points out of darkness and into new life.
And may we all remember that God shows no partiality…