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Preached by Dr. Robyn Arnold on Easter Vigil (Saturday, April 7, 2012)
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” (Mark 16:6)
What would you do for love? How much is too much?
The sacrifice has been made, the cries of pain and despair have ended. Nothing is as we expected. The one who loved us best has died and we did nothing to stop it. The powers of darkness and the forces of violence and death held us in thrall and we lost sight of the Truth. Now the sun is coming up and we find ourselves standing outside a tomb confused and empty.
But our failure to see the Truth does not negate it... our failure to hear the Word does not silence the still small voice reminding us that in the end Love always trumps hate.
It was God the Spirit, Love in essence who created everything that is out of nothing. It was that same Spirit, that same Love, who gave all that lives breath.
What is the darkness of the grave to the light of that Love? …a light that shines in the shadows and makes them like the day. The creatures and processes of decay have no power here in the light of the Love that gives life.
We, of the small minds cannot fathom the how of this event but it is imperative that we understand the why…Why the Spirit of God moved in the dead and broken body of the man Jesus… reversing the decomposition…changing the paradigm from “we live until we die” to “we live, we die and we rise to life again”.
Here is the mystery that is at the heart of our hope in Christ Jesus.
Our old sinful selves die in Christ as our old dusty bodies die and go to earth. In Christ Jesus we rise to life again, shiny and new… creatures of love where once we were creatures of violence and death. This is the Way to eternal life. This is the Truth Jesus sought to teach us…a lesson we could only learn in the aftermath of his death and in the light of his resurrection.
Interestingly, in the original text of the Gospel of Mark there was no record of a resurrection appearance. The writer ends at verse 8 with the women amazed and terrified into silence. It is left to the other Gospel writers to flesh out the story with other encounters between Mary Magdalene, the disciples and the resurrected Lord… Jesus, risen from the dead in a physical body still bearing the wounds of his crucifixion. Whether the writer of Mark preferred to maintain the mystery of the promise,…faith without sight … or expected the readers to write their own endings with personal recollections of stories passed around in the community is unclear.
What we do have is a stone rolled away, an empty tomb, a holy messenger and the promise of life where there was only death… of hope where there was only despair. What we carry away from that empty tomb is a certainty of the physical resurrection of the Christ --who in the man Jesus carried the experience of our humanity into the Triune Godhead. In his experience of death and his resurrection Christ gives hope to a now redeemed people…hope that death is not the end but only another part of our journey as the beloved children of God.
We are no longer held in bondage to our finitude. A body may die and decay. A species may disappear. A sun may burn out in supernova. In our human understanding it seems that all created things are finite. However, while physics can calculate the probability of our universe expanding until it disintegrates or contracting until everything disappears into the dense depths of a black hole, we need a metaphysics to even begin to fathom the meaning of a God Incarnate in a man who died and rose from the dead bringing all of creation with him into a new reality. In this new reality the power of a future in God reaches back through time to pull us forward into the Kingdom made present in the here and now. We have been incorporated into the infinite God.
This is all too much! It doesn’t make sense… it isn’t even rational. If such a thing were possible… if there were some natural processes we haven’t yet discovered that would allow such an event, such an action on the part of God, we have to ask why… when everything we have done has shown us to be selfish, self-serving, often violent, creatures… sinners from our mother’s womb. We don’t deserve this hope… this new life.
But what is deserved has no place here does it? It is only by the grace of God that we have been made redeemed and made new in Christ Jesus.
This a love story after all. What would you do for love? What would God, who is Love do for you?
And the Word that was God became flesh in the man Jesus, who came to teach love to the people of God.
But the people that the God-man loved lost their way and in the darkness killed the one who loved them best.
Then the Spirit of God who was the Word made flesh in Jesus entered the grave to lay waste to the forces of death bringing life and light to the people in darkness, breaking the bonds of mortality forever.
The man who was the Word rose from the dead bearing the wounds that marked the depth of his love.
And the people rejoiced in the Love that gave them life and kept in remembrance the Cross that bore the Man who taught them the way of love.
Now the darkness is gone.
Awake my Soul, Rise up
Look to the east and shout for joy
Behold our love comes in glorious majesty
His beautiful face radiant
With the light of a thousand suns.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!