Easter Sunday – April 16, 2017
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
Did you read this morning’s newspaper? Or did you read the news on your computer this morning? Maybe you checked it on your smartphone as the messages popped up alerting you to today’s headlines? I looked this morning and a major headline was missing. I couldn’t find it anywhere – not in the newspaper, not on the computer, not on my phone. It wasn’t anywhere. And I don’t understand because it’s earth shattering news.
Now I know one of the biggest stories that everyone has been talking about is April, the giraffe in New York that everyone around the country has been watching to see when she will have her baby. Giraffes are pregnant a long time – between 11 and 15 months – and everyone was growing impatient waiting for the new baby giraffe to be born. He was finally born yesterday. I know because people were posting it on Facebook, on twitter, and it was all over the news. It was exciting to celebrate his arrival, but again, it wasn’t the top story I expected would be all over the place.
Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, and I too like watching events like this unfold. Like the eagle cam in the spring as we wait for the eagle eggs to hatch. It’s exciting and wonderful to watch nature transform right in front of our eyes and we want to be there. We want to experience this emergence of new life. In part, because despite whatever problems we are going through, despite the challenges we face, and the suffering we experience, watching new life emerge fills us with a new hope. It’s a sign that life goes on even when life may not be so easy. These stories capture the attention of so many people, because everyone welcomes a new infusion of hope.
And yet there is an event that is even bigger than these stories. An event that is still unfolding right now. An event that is earth shaking. An event that brought us here today. Jesus is alive! He is risen! The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive!
The account of Jesus’ resurrection that we read this morning from Matthew’s gospel tells us how it happened. It was literally an earth shattering event. There was an earthquake – just like three days before that dark Friday when Jesus died on the cross- now there was an earthquake as the stone to his tomb was rolled away by an angel announcing that Jesus was alive. The women were struck with both fear and joy. Fear of the initial shock of experiencing the earthquake and seeing an angel. And joy with the news that Jesus was alive and actually seeing him. That was enough to make anyone afraid. The angel tried to reassure them, “Do not be afraid” and then the angel said “come and see.” See for yourselves that Jesus is not here! They were given instructions on what to do: “Go quickly and tell the other disciples.” While they were on their way – most likely running to tell this news – they literally ran into Jesus who also told them, “Do not be afraid.” And he also told them, “Go, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they’ll see me.” It’s an amazing story, but here’s the thing we need to keep in mind. This is not just a story that happened over 2000 years ago. That wasn’t the end of the story. It was the beginning. It continues today. Jesus is alive! He is risen! Jesus is alive!
That’s the important earth shaking news that we – just like the first women at the tomb – need to tell everyone. And maybe that means even reminding ourselves. Jesus is alive! It means this Easter story is still happening. It means that we live every day in a new reality – an Easter reality. This is a story that needs to be heard and shared with everyone because this story is more important than any news story out there. Why? Because no matter how hard our life may get, no matter what struggles and pain we may go through, no matter how scary life at times may seem, no matter how hopeless things may seem….Jesus went to hell and back for us! He loves us that much! Jesus is alive! And that makes all the difference in the world. It makes all the difference because God through Jesus defeated the power of death and nothing can be as devastating as death. But death no longer has the last word. And because Jesus lives we and those we love who have died will also live. Jesus made sure of that. Jesus is alive!
This is the greatest news in the entire world. This is the reason we can get up every day no matter how hard it may be at times, because Jesus is alive! Today – right now – Jesus is alive! It’s not something that happened a long time ago. It’s still happening. Jesus is alive today! He is here! He is with us! He’s not leaving us. Look around today, this week, every day and you too will see him, feel his presence, and experience him. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!