Halleluja! Christ is Risen! The Easter sermon, Get On Up to Galilee!, by Dr. Lentz, begins just past the 27 minute mark.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! What a proclamation – it really does change everything. How we look at the world and our engagement in it. Just think: a small band of disciples absolutely devastated –the “show” was over, their leader crucified; they were in danger.
But then they experienced Jesus alive. And you can have your doubts, and say it is impossible – but these disciples (men and women) changed the world with this proclamation. Paul, the biggest doubter and persecutor of the early church, 25 years later gave his life for this gospel – which was and is still good news.
No matter what the institutional church has done to the message – the message is still raw and powerful, can change the world for good and is still happening! We need to pay attention!
I wish we still had that passion and power – to change our Easter bonnets for crash helmets – and go out and live like we have nothing to fear!
Let’s go back to the first Easter according to Mark. There were two things that jumped out at me. First thing: The story in Mark ends with the women who: “fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them.” They don’t say anything to anyone. Fear and silence. Now that is really odd way to end a gospel; but I like it!
Second thing: there is that mysterious young man dressed in white sitting in the tomb who says to the women – go tell the disciples to “get on up to Galilee.” You don’t get to see Jesus right now – you have to move and “get on up to Galilee.”
You will encounter the Risen Lord as you “ease on down the road” as the characters of the Wiz are told. (Remember that?)
‘Cause there may be times when you think you lost your mind
And the steps you’re takin’ leave you three, four steps behind
But the road you’re walkin’ might be long sometimes
You just keep on truckin’ and you’ll be fine, yeah!
So you have to “keep on truckin’” keep on moving – only up the road will you see what you need to see, you will experience the risen Christ, if you are willing to take the steps and get on up to Galilee!
So I am thinking about the fear of these women.
Things haven’t changed. Fear shapes our world. It feels like we are afraid of everything.
But if I were a parent of a child or teenagers I would be scared to death to send them to school in the wake of Sandy Hook and Parkland.
If I were a parent of a black child in the inner city of just about any city I would be terrified every day.
Being a black man in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento, CA is not a safe space.
I spoke on the phone with a young woman about to be married in Austin, Texas and she said that a package was delivered to her front door.
If I were an undocumented person trying to make a living in this country I would be scared of every knock on the door, afraid that I might be taken from my children.
I know of folks who are scared of starting a re-hab program because they have failed before; of women who are scared to leave a bad relationship; of folks who need to come out of the closet to their conservative parents; of older adults who are aware of the new aches and pains and friends who are dying.
Students who are graduating and wondering “What’s next?”–besides student loans and few job opportunities.
Who is not going through “stuff” that is deep and frightening on some level?
So I am glad that the two Marys and Salome were scared – the gospel speaking truth to the reality of our lives – as fear seems to press in upon us.
This is why the words of the mysterious young man dressed in white become an invitation. “Get on up to Galilee” becomes “move it, you can’t stay here or you will be stuck, don’t run away and hide.” Because you and I know that that doesn’t work.
“Get on up to Galilee!” You see, it is in the moving that the experience of Easter happens.
I encourage you, as soon as this service is over, to “Get on up to Galilee.” Move away from the tombs that imprison you, and the shadows that sometimes beckon, and begin to move towards the promise of new encounters, of new hopes, and of risks that may change everything.
We have to quit thinking of Easter as a commemoration of a past event and start thinking of it as something that happens to you and to me in real time as we “ease on down the road” of life, as you “Get on up to Galilee.”
Easter is happening everywhere – wherever there is a place of fear you are right at the thin spot where Easter is waiting to happen for you.
I know of a doctor who loves to deliver babies – the fear of labor becomes the liberation of the first breath of life. That is an Easter happening.
I know a director who loves to help people cross over from life to death – the last breath that leads to new existence. Easter’s happening right there – fear to liberation!
I know of a person who after years of loneliness and self-hate went on “match.com” and is in a new relationship. That’s Easter!
You should start counting your Easters!
Do you know the story of Ke’shon Newman, a 15-year-old Black teenager who lives on the Southside of Chicago? His brother was shot and killed. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The school that Ke’shon attends has lost 13 students to gun violence, almost as many as in Parkland, but Ke’shon’s school never received the attention. Ke’shon and so many others live their lives in fear.
But Ke’shon decided to “Get on up to Galilee” and joined a “Violence Prevention Youth Group” that meets in the basement of a local church. There young people support each other and share stories. And after the shooting in Parkland these Chicago inner city youths invited those upper middle-class Florida students to a conversation in the basement and they found in their common grief and fear – an uncommon power. Ke’shon met Emma Gonzalez.
And they all “got on up to Galilee” or in this case they went to Washington last weekend. And you all saw that amazing 11-year-old Naomi Wadler – who to me is like that young man at the first Easter – pointing the way.
And this is just one example of what can happen to you when you “Get on up to Galilee” and move from fear to faith, from terror to temerity, from not saying anything to finding your voice. When you open up instead of closing down.
So on this Easter morning, I say to you: be frightened–just for a moment–but then:
- Get on up into Galilee and enter that re-hab. Go to the meetings.
- Get on up into Galilee and graduate and have an adventure.
- Get on up into Galilee and go to the gym.
- Get on up into Galilee and become a Sanctuary Church.
- Get on up into Galilee and turn off the TV.
- Get on up into Galilee and join a movement that gets you out of your bed and out of your head.
- Get on up into Galilee and make a new relationship.
- Get on up into Galilee and make that phone call.
Get on up into Galilee! Move it! And you may just encounter something alive in you and around you that will take you to the next level.
Ease on down, ease on down the road, come on, ease on down
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road
Pick your left foot up when your right foot’s down
Come on legs – keep movin’- Don’t you lose no ground
You just keep on keepin’ on the road that you choose
Don’t you give up walkin’ ’cause you gave up shoes
For Christ has risen, he has risen indeed! Be scared but get on up and ease on down to your Galilee!
He is waiting for you there!