Sermon for Easter Sunday April 1, 2018 “Practicing Resurrection”

Based on Mark 16:1-8

Christ is risen! He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia! So we say it. What does it mean, really, to say that Christ is risen? To say that Christ is Risen is more than just saying it. You know that throw away phrase, “just saying?” In this case, there is no “just saying.” In this case, saying is trusting, and trusting is practicing. Now there’s a mouthful and a life-full. How in the world do we “practice” resurrection?

For me, practicing resurrection is imaged in a vivid memory from my youth. When our church youth group would go camping and backpacking, which was often, my youth pastor had the practice of waking us up from our hard teenage camping slumber, always shortly after dawn, by walking around our tents with a cassette tape player turned up loud playing The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” “Here comes the sun! Do do do do. Here comes the sun, I say, it’s alright!”

There are many other popular songs today, of course, that speak positively to the human spirit. I don’t know that Katy Perry’s “Rise” or Coco’s “Remember Me” will be as formative as “Here Comes the Sun.” Like many songs, they inspire us to meet life with heads high. So sing em if you’ve got em. But know that the grammar of Easter proclaims grace. Many inspirations pull from us a strength we may not know. But only a power beyond us overcomes fear. Only a beyond mortal power inspires the purely good and gives the liveliness that God wants for us. Indeed, Good Friday shows what is tragically typical of humanity. But Easter shows what God does with Good Friday. Easter invites us to leave behind our death-dealing habits with our familiar tombs and invites us into a new life of dazzling divine days.

This does give pause. Consider the disciples after going to Jesus’ tomb, finding it empty, being told by a heavenly messenger that he was risen, and had gone ahead to meet them on their own turf. They ran away in panic. They had no power in themselves to meet this very new day.

Mark’s “end of the story” is abrupt. Other hands later just had to add their presumed better versions. But this is the real deal. Mark writes that they came, they saw, they heard, they fled. It wasn’t very veni, vidi, vici of them. But Mark is real and raw about humanity’s condition. He recognizes that those disciples came expecting to handle Jesus’ dead body, thereby to put a period on the end of their life chapter with Jesus. They got an open and empty tomb instead. That meant that their lives now belonged to the new ongoing and open story of Christ’s humble servanthood. They were not going If the tomb was open and empty, all that Jesus taught was now affirmed. For a teenager it makes sense when upset to lock one’s self in a room until things are figured out. It makes similar sense for humans normalized to murderous Fridays to run away from Sunday’s strange news about a whole new future with Jesus alive as Lord. Here comes the sun! It’s alright. But it wasn’t quite alright, not yet. Resurrection would take some getting used to…and a lot of practice.

With Easter God was loose in the world. It was a fact that could not be controlled by burying it in a history book or spinning it through a fake news outlet. Easter was a fact now with a promise. Jesus was raised and he would be where his disciples lived, in the daily grind, and he would there share in our own crosses, all humanity’s crosses, so to rule with the solidarity of suffering love. We can meet him and share in his life-giving love. Or we can run back to the so-called practical values to which society clings with its cold dead hands.

Here comes the sun. It’s alright! This sun comes whether we stand in place or run away. Easter came and it comes. And it is blessing for those who now live by it. Easter today means nothing if it was not real then. And Easter then meant nothing if it is not real today. Easter is just the beginning of your life’s story, of you walking your path to home in Galilee, home with Christ, home where we do God’s work of living the kingdom come on earth as in heaven.

The Risen Lord empowers you and me to practice resurrection. He gives his word and his body and his blood and his spirited power now to work his love: to do now the holy work of Easter; to no longer humanly accept the Fridays we cannot change, but with divine love’s power to change now all the days that God does not accept. We do it right where we are planted; “back in Galilee;” back at our street and work addresses; right here in our daily reality where we sleep and eat and drink and serve and play and suffer.

Here comes the sun! What does practicing resurrection look like? It will be an eager looking always for Jesus because he promised to show up and to lead us in our daily lives. It will be to “pray with our legs” by marching for our lives from the dark tombs of injustice toward the warm clarity of the honest new day.

Here comes the sun! What does resurrection look like? It looks like bodies that trust God even when ravaged by disease and age and rancid politics. And so we always can pray for others and love even from afar with eternal effect no matter how we are.

Here comes the sun! What does resurrection look like? It looks like never “settling” with regret for what little we’ve done or with fear of what others unjustly impose. Resurrection looks always like receiving Christ anew in the joyful gathering around his word, his font, his table, and serving him joyfully in whomever he surprisingly shows up.

Here comes the sun! What does resurrection look like? It looks like spouses forgiving each other for years of mutual wrong doing and committing to start over in the daylight; it looks like a 10 year old boy announcing holy absolution to his grandfather who is wracked still by his part in the horror of war; it looks like an anniversary of freedom from an addiction; it looks like teenagers leading righteous social change; it looks like a scientist with breakthrough research that advances the planet’s health; it looks like caring for the poor, the abused, the refugee and the immigrant; it looks like mercy, peace, justice, and love focused in and from human bodies-minds-hearts; it looks like–it finally is!–standing in the glorious light of God with your loved ones of all times and looking back on your empty grave with nothing but expectant love and gratitude for those who still walk by faith. All this and more ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!

Here comes the sun! What does resurrection look like? It looks like you do now, but carried into tomorrow and next week and next year and beyond, because wherever you are and will be, Christ is Risen, with you always, and ahead of you always. See and follow and sing. Here comes the sun! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed! It’s alright! Amen!

Duane Larson
Christ the King Lutheran Church
Houston, TX
April 1, 2018