Year C, Easter Sunday
After a dark and cold winter, the ground is rotting. Last year’s leaves are now a dark, rotting mess. And then, up out of the mulch, green shoots appear. First the crocuses, then the daffodils and tulips. Then the cherry blossoms appear, and our world is transformed into a riot of color and the promise of life, abundant and beautiful.
Our world feels dark, cold and rotten sometimes. The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean is going to change our world forever. Who can look at pictures of small children washing up dead on the shore and not be moved?
The bombings in Brussels reveal more death and rot. How can we understand acts of murder on this scale? In Brussels, Southern Sudan, in Paris?
Closer to home we face a homelessness crisis. Drive through Seattle on the freeway and every overpass is crammed with tents, garbage, and improvised shelters.
We seem to be surrounded by death, destruction, pain, and suffering. Where will we find the new shoots of Spring in this wounded, suffering world?
The women went to the tomb to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial. They brought strong spices and perfumes because after a few days a body begins to decay and the smell is horrible. This was not a pretty or pleasant job they were setting out to accomplish. Only their deep love for Jesus could move them to return to the tomb on the third day. They went expecting decay and death, and what they found instead was life: resurrection life.
The women’s love drove them to that tomb, and love revealed resurrection life to them. Jesus appeared, walked with them on the road to Emmaus, blessed them in the upper room, showed them his wounds, and ate a dinner of broiled fish with them.
Love is what drives us into life to embrace life, even in the face of despair, suffering, and cruelty. Love reveals resurrection life.
My wife had a friend when she was a kid who lost her entire family in a terrible car crash. The family was driving on a steep mountain road when the brakes failed. Lori, my wife’s friend, was frightened by the winding road so she had put on her seatbelt. She was the only one who did. In those days, we didn’t always wear seatbelts, but the road scared Lori so she put hers on, and when the car went over the side she was the only one who lived. The seatbelt wasn’t enough to save her though. The car was burning. Other cars stopped to look at the wreck and no one wanted to go down. The scene was horrific. Who could survive such a wreck? One person, driven by love, climbed down and found Lori, alive in a burning car, and pulled her out. Lori is alive because of that act of courage and love. In the face of death, one person climbed down to see if anyone could be saved.
Resurrection life is created by love. Resurrection life is revealed by love. You know what I mean. When we are in love, the world is beautiful! Think about how your life, and the world, looks when you have lost someone you love. There is no beauty. The world is grey, dark, ugly, and hopeless. Then think about how the world looks when you are falling in love. Everything is beautiful!
Our world seems dark, cold and rotten sometimes. There is a refugee crisis in Europe beyond anything we have ever known. There are terrorist attacks in Sudan, France, and Belgium. Our presidential candidates are spouting racism, bigotry, and fear, and our public spaces are filling with the tents of homeless souls. Where will we find the green shoots of new life?
Love drove the women to the tomb. Love revealed resurrection life. Love is what drives us into life, to embrace life. Love is what we do, and love will reveal beauty, even now.
Love drives us to feed the hungry. Every Tuesday night we feed as many as 300 people here and at three different homeless encampments.
Love drives us to host Tent City 3, twice in the past two years.
Love drives us to support a friend through a tough time. Love might even drive one of us to climb down to a burning wreck to see if anyone can be saved.
Love leads us not to ignore the darkness, but to step towards it, and in so doing, lead one another through the darkness into the light.
When we step into the mess, embracing life even in the midst of suffering, pain, loss, and decay, we find resurrection life. Resurrection happens when we live in love and act in love.
The women went to the tomb, expecting only darkness and death. When love leads us into the darkness we find our way to light.
Love reveals beauty.
Love reveals resurrection.
Love reveals life.
The Rev. David Marshall
St. Dunstan’s Church, Shoreline WA
March 27, 2016