Isaiah 65.17-25; Acts 10.34-43; Luke 24.1-12
But not every Easter has been like this for me. At times “Alleluia, Christ is Risen” has been a question - it revealed my doubts. At times it has been mouthed but not spoken aloud - it revealed my pain and sorrow. At times it has been spoken through gritted teeth - it revealed how much I needed it to be true.
I have no doubt that Easter has been different for you over the years as well. Each year as we gather to tell the story of a resurrected Jesus, our lives are in different places. This Easter, we gather together as a community filled with our stories, our joys, our fears. Right here in this room we have many things: relationships that are beautiful and life giving as well as ones that are struggling, battles for health that are just beginning and diseases already beaten back, deep grief at the death of loved ones and deep joy at new life. And in the midst of all of that stuff we say “Alleluia, Christ is RIsen” with joy, hope, determination but also with doubt, fear and disbelief.
And that, friends, is exactly what we find in Luke’s gospel in the Easter story. If we had kept reading today we would have heard of a few more events that happen in pretty rapid succession on that first Easter day. Jesus appears to his disciples a number of times: as they are walking on the road to Emmaus, on the beach, and giving instructions.
And in the midst of that first Easter day, here is where the disciples were at: The text tells us that they were perplexed, terrified, in disbelief, amazed. In one moment they can’t recognize Jesus right in front of them, and then next they can. They lose hope when things don’t seem to have turned out the way they expected. They are slow to belief, excited to deliver the news of a resurrected Jesus, startled, terrified, doubtful, and full of great joy. Verse 41 tells us that “While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.”
In the midst of their mixed emotions and roller coaster of reactions, Jesus comes to them again and agin. For the disciples experiencing the very first Easter AND for us today, Jesus meets us right where we are. Easter is is for us - no matter our levels of joy, hopelessness, excitement, or doubt. Easter meets us right where we are.
Easter brings us the precious gift of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus is not resurrected as some sort of superhero but as the very same one who was crucified, died, buried and descended into hell. Which means that no matter what hell you are in this day or any day, no matter what you have faced or will face, Jesus not only goes with you into the mire and the muck and the pit, but he has been there before and he knows the way through.
He will journey with us, and in the journey we are reminded that the tomb is empty, that there is ALWAYS light and life to be had because of what God has done. The reality is that throughout our lives we will journey back and forth between light and darkness. Often, we find ourselves in the midst of both at the same time.
But in the end, darkness and death will not have the last word. Frederick Buechner said “Resurrection means that the worst thing is never the last thing.” This is a great reminder that God has the last word - and God’s word is light and life. To every ‘no’ the world tries to break us with, God says ‘yes.’ Yes to new life, yes to Jesus, yes to hope and freedom and justice and peace. Even death itself, which seems the ultimate ‘no’ can barely be heard because of the joyful yes that God sings to all creation.
No matter what your alleluias sound like on this Easter morning, know that Easter is for you. No matter what your alleluias sound like, know that God’s love is for you.
It feels hard to put into words the enormity of this day, so I’m going to conclude by borrowing Ted Loder’s words. Here is his poem, from Guerrillas of Grace_ -