Easter – Becoming Fascinating People
March 27, 2016
Every day on her way to work Nicole
listens to the birds and she is grateful.
Nicole (not her real name but a real person) says it’s her very favorite sound.
She looks forward to it.
For her, the birds sing a song of resurrection.
Nicole remembers all too well a time when she was in a tomb.
There was a time when she was literally locked up –
and she was not allowed to hear the sound of the outdoors.
She couldn’t hear children laughing;
she couldn’t hear the wind blowing;
She couldn’t hear birds singing.
Now free from that tomb,
she listens especially for the sound of the birds on her way to work.
They remind her of this new life she has –
Easter is sometimes hard to believe…
until you’ve been in that place of darkness.
Easter is sometimes hard to imagine…
unless you’ve been dead and come alive again.
Easter sometimes is hard to understand…
until you realize Easter isn’t necessarily meant to be understood with the head…
it’s meant to be experienced with the heart.
I love Luke’s gospel story because it focuses on the fact that
that even for the first disciples,
the resurrection seems like nonsense –
‘an idle tale,’ they call it.
It is dark – deep dawn as the Greek says,
when a handful of women including
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James
go to the tomb bringing aromata – aromatic spices –
that they have prepared.
They arrive and the stone at the entrance of the tomb
where Jesus’ body was laid,
has been rolled away.
The tomb is not empty…but inside there is something unexpected.
Instead of one body, there are two.
Two men very much alive,
in ‘dazzling’ clothes as Luke tells it.
“Why are you here?” they ask.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is risen just as he promised!”
And then suddenly, the women hear the birds.
They experience Easter.
They had heard Jesus talk about it.
They heard him explain it.
But until they experience it,
it was just too hard to believe.
It’s still very early in the morning
when the women come to tell the rest of the disciples what they’ve seen.
The men immediately dismiss it as an “idle tale.”
March madness…nothing more.
Maybe they dismiss it because women were telling the story…
maybe they dismiss it because it is just too early in the morning….
or maybe the men dismiss the women’s story
because Easter is easy to dismiss
when you haven’t experienced resurrection….
when you’ve never met someone who has been raised from the dead.
If the story of the resurrection is for us just an idle tale,
we go home to eat our Easter dinner, visit with family and friends,
and it’s over until we hear it told again another year.
But…if Christ has been raised…
If Jesus is alive in our world,
everything is different….
(everything may not always be awesome …)
but everything is different.[i]
If Jesus is alive in our world…
hope will show up in unexpected places;
new life will appear where there is death;
light will shine where there once was darkness.
If Jesus is alive in our world…
birds will sing a resurrection song….and we will take notice and be grateful.
Shane Claiborne writes that Christianity spreads best
not by force but by fascination…
He adds that over the past several decades in the United States,
Christianity has become less and less fascinating
since the sort of Christianity most Americans know now
is what we see on TV and hear on the radio …
and that version doesn’t really sound like Jesus.[ii]
If in our world, the resurrection is considered
more and more as simply an idle tale…
Maybe it’s because people haven’t experienced resurrection;
Maybe they haven’t encountered someone that God’s raised from the dead;
Maybe they haven’t met any fascinating Christians…
people’s whose entire lives have been changed by this day;
people like Nicole who live a resurrected life.
Pope Francis is one of the most fascinating people in the world right now.
He is the head of the Roman Catholic church-
a church which has a billion and a quarter followers.
He has incredible power and influence…
and yet over and over again he chooses humility.
On Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter,
popes typically remember Jesus’ action of washing the disciples’ feet,
by washing the feet of other priests.
This past Thursday, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of asylum seekers.
Among them were Muslim, Christian, and Hindu refugees.
A couple of years ago on Maundy Thursday, he washed the feet of women.
No other pope has done that.
Christianity spreads best not by force but by fascination…
it spreads by our fascination with the poor…
it spreads by our fascination with love …
it spreads by our fascination with the fruit of the spirit – peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, humility.
It’s been said that it’s almost as if Pope Francis takes the teachings of Jesus seriously.
It’s almost as if he believes that the resurrection of Jesus
is a story worth staking his life on.
May we take this story of resurrection and make it our own…
may it change our entire lives…
may we become fascinating people!
This is the day that the Lord has made!
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!