A short homily for Easter Day, April 20, 2014, preached at St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center.
We made it! We made to this day. All of Lent with all those sacrifices. You’re back to eating chocolate or whatever you gave up. It all seemed so long in the midst of it, but now, you’re here. Praise God. I’m so glad. We’re here.
In Lent, and particularly in the mysterious days of Holy Week, God shows us God’s self as God is. Nothing more and nothing less. Just God’s own self, in Jesus Christ. So, to recap, what by this week do we learn about God?
On Palm Sunday, we learn that we worship the deserted God. The disciples all fled. Jesus reveals God deserted. On Maundy Thursday, we learn that we worship the betrayed God. Judas and the kiss. Jesus shows us God betrayed. On Good Friday, we learn that we worship the crucified God. Jesus on the cross. Jesus shows us God crucified. On Holy Saturday, we learn that we worship the forgotten God. Jesus out of sight. Jesus, by his absence, shows us God forgotten. And today, Easter Sunday, Mary and the stranger in the garden, something we didn’t expect: we learn that we worship the unrecognized God. In her defense, it was early in the day, predawn, and still dark. She didn’t know who he was.
So add these to the list of godly adjectives you were taught in Sunday school - adjectives like omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all the rest. Add these to the adjectives you know about who God is: deserted, betrayed, crucified, forgotten, and unrecognized.
This is who God is.
But there’s at least one more word to add to our list: risen. Jesus today is risen from the dead. Alleluia! Deserted, betrayed, crucified, forgotten, unrecognized…and risen. Risen from the grave. Alleluia!
And this last word, risen, trumps all the others. Or, better, it reclaims the others as true signs of God’s love. Love, because you may at some point in your life begin to wonder if this day is meant for you. If you’re worthy of it. If God’s love is for you like it is for the others. Maybe, on that day, you will be keenly aware of your having deserted God or, worse, betraying God. Maybe God will someday seem dead to you. Or maybe you’ll wake up from an impossibly long and dark season that seemed like a bad dream and, now, looking back, you see you’d simply forgotten. Maybe you look back now at moments in which God seemed distant or absent and see, like Mary, that God was in front of your face, but you could not recognize him.
Deserted, betrayed, crucified, forgotten, and unrecognized are all true words about God. But risen is also a true word about God. And this last word, risen, trumps all the others. Or, better, it reclaims the others as true signs of God’s love. Risen is the word that overcomes our fears about ourselves. Fears of desertion, betrayal, crucifixion, forgetfulness, and blindness. Risen is the voice of the gardner - not defeated by your inability to grasp him, comprehend him, understand him - clearing his throat and speaking your name. Risen is the truth about God’s love for you - not defeated by death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell. Risen is God’s believing you to be the pearl of great price and giving all that God has to find you. Risen is the truth that you are God’s child, and so God’s love of you has become a true word about God. And also of you. So the true word ‘risen’ shows us both who God is, and also who we are in his Son.
Praise God! Wonderful, Good News. Christ is risen from the dead.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen, indeed. Alleluia!