Happy Easter…Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia! For over 2,000 years Christians have proclaimed that!
40 years after the resurrection experience St. Paul wrote that if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then there is no point to Christianity. He is correct. The mission of the church is to proclaim that Jesus who was dead lives and what was impossible is more than possible.
True: Rising from the dead is outside the realm of science and rationality – although the effects of Easter can be measured and the data studied. For 2,000 years lives have been changed by this “explosive power of a new reality.”
Because that is what Easter is. The Resurrection of Jesus blows everything up, it is pure power being unleashed; it is completely off the chain, out of your and my experience. The rules are no longer the rules – the inmates run the prison. Easter cannot be domesticated.
But I feel like we, the church, and our culture tries to do just that; make Easter a routine.
We buy new clothes, come to church, have a really good meal, watch TV, go to bed and wake up tomorrow morning and go to work or school, or whatever. (No judgment – that is what I will do. I can’t wait for this service to be over!)
We will read the papers and get all worked up about the elections, fearful that Trump and Clinton may get the nomination; fearful that ISIS may bomb something close; fearful and fretful about taxes and loans and death and dying. Sometimes it is hard just to get out of bed.
It is enough to drive you crazy and think that this world has gone mad. It is enough to make you lose hope and wonder, not optimistically, what tomorrow will bring. How can Easter speak to Brussels? How does Easter speak to my life? Really good questions.
But Easter should be the service where we pass out hard hats and work clothes – because to confront the craziness of the world we need to be witnesses of the craziness of the Gospel.
It isn’t easy and I don’t want to be naïve. “Jesus lives” doesn’t mean that everything is good – just read the newspapers.
I have been preaching Easter for over 25 years. I know this story really well. And I have come to the conclusion that you have to be a ‘little nuts’ to really believe this Easter story. It is crazy, really. Particularly in light of the world we live in right now.
You have to choose your madness. You can choose the craziness of this world that seems to be coming apart at the seams OR I think you can choose the foolishness of the Gospel that calls you to wait and work and hope and help create that which you long for.
I am reminded of what Alanis Morissette and then Seal sang:
But we’re never gonna survive
unless we get a little crazy
So today I want to claim for myself and I hope you want to claim this too – a little Easter craziness if we are going to survive the day-to-day madness and actually change some things.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians: “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
I can see where human foolishness leads us, why not a little divine madness?
It is crazy to think that there is life after death but one time I was visiting someone who was dying. She told me that she saw all her friends coming out of a long hallway to greet her. The nurse warned me that she was “seeing things,” that the meds were making her see crazy things. Perhaps…but I found her vision really compelling.
It is crazy to think that love is more powerful than hate; and justice and equity is worth pursuing and inclusion for all people is the way that God wants it.
One person is crazy enough to want to build a wall; I want to be crazy enough to tear every wall down – I think that is God’s Easter craziness.
It is crazy to believe that I am really forgiven and that I am not forever bound by what happened in the past. I really can break the cycle of addiction and dysfunction. Ask someone who is now sober.
I was in court the other day supporting someone who has really turned his life around – and the judge saw that and waved all fines and jail time and the young man was like: speechless and dumbfounded and free.
It is crazy to think there is more to life than what we see; and that we are part of this cosmic cloud of witnesses – we are not alone.
But all that craziness is precisely what Christian faith is about.
So I lift up to you – take a look at your life. Wherever the crazy is, that might be the place where a tomb is being cracked open.
Wherever the irrational is, well that might be the place where there is really some liveliness.
Wherever there is unpredictability, and messiness, and stress – wherever you have to use your imagination – and break the mold, and seek for words – Easter is right there.
At the first Easter, no one was ready for crazy. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the “other women” were just going to anoint the body. And then there are these two men in dazzling clothes. It is a crazy scene.
And odder still is what the two men ask the women: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” That is a crazy thing to say – the women were not looking for the living among the dead, they were looking for the dead among the dead; they are in a graveyard after all.
And when the women run to tell the men …the men, of course, think the women are “nuts.” They are telling idle tales. Men do that to women. And we do that to children, and to the old, and to the mentally ill, and to the poor – that their experience is odd, not “real,” not worth listening to.
The craziness of Easter shakes up the status quo and the privileged order…and it gets a little crazy when voices long silenced start speaking; indeed it gets a little crazy when the dead rise! But that is Easter for you.
So you can choose insanity which is: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.“ Or, choose Easter craziness – which definitely is not the same old, same old.
Ilia Delio, an Italian author writes in his book The Emergent Christ: “To be ‘In Christ’ is to be identified with the Living One who is not to be sought among the dead, for the Living One is the One who is coming to be….the living One who improvises at the frontier of the future.
I love that: You are the living One who improvises at the frontier of the future.
“Don’t fear the reaper” because God is still creating, making things up as she goes along.
That is crazy.…and it just might be true.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!