Sermon for April 20th, 2014 || Easter Sunday, Year A || Acts 10: 34-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3: 1-4; Matthew 28: 1-10 || The Rev. Margot D. Critchfield
Welcome happy morning indeed! Blessings to you on this glorious day of Easter, and thank you for being here! Wherever you are on your faith journey, please know that we are just delighted to have you with us to help us celebrate what we refer to in theological shorthand as “the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
I call it theological shorthand because the further we get from the first century the more abstract our understanding of the Resurrection seems to get. It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. We can interpret it literally or metaphorically, tether our very lives to it or ignore it altogether.
But one very fundamental meaning of Christ’s Resurrection—and I would argue the most essential meaning of it is this: That God’ Divine Love is the most powerful force in existence, a force more powerful even than death, a force that cannot be stopped, ever.
When we say we believe in the Resurrection, we’re saying we believe that 2,000 years ago God proved once and for all that Love is more powerful than hatred, violence, or sin…that in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God gave us irrefutable proof that the negative forces of despair, disease, death and destruction will never overcome the force of God’s Love, because that victory has already been secured.
What this means is that absolutely nothing in all of creation is beyond the transforming, life-giving power of Love. Not death, loneliness, grief, illness, or addiction; not rejection, anguish, failure, or humiliation. It means that within all trauma and tragedy, despair and desolation, suffering and sorrow, the sometimes hidden but eternally inextinguishable light of Love lives on. Because Love, you see, is Sovereign. And that’s the power of the Resurrection.
Now, I realize this is still pretty abstract, so let me give a couple of real life, flesh and blood examples for those concrete thinkers among us: Examples like my friend Nancy, who suddenly became a widow last year at the age of 58 after 31 years of remarkably blissful marriage. Reflecting on her life since John died last August, Nancy writes, “…this is what I’ve learned. That love is a force, an element as real and powerful as time and water, an entity and a light that is not only transformative and powerful but also the solution to grief.” Yes! That is the power of Love! That’s the power of the Resurrection…the power of resurrection life!
Like a woman named Michelle, whom you may have seen featured on a series NBC did recently about the epidemic of heroin addiction. Michelle used to live what she described as a totally double life. She was a young wife, mother, and teacher in a picturesque and tony little town like Cohasset—and a slave to the disease of addiction at the same time.
Given her beautifully groomed appearance and her social status, Michelle’s addiction went unnoticed for far too long, but eventually she lost everything—her husband, her daughter, her job. Today Michelle has an entirely new life. She’s been clean and sober four years, she has a new career helping others with substance abuse problems and she’s remarried to a man she met in recovery. That’s the power of the Resurrection. That’s resurrection life!
Now let’s look closer to home. At last week’s memorial service on the one-year anniversary of the marathon bombings, Joe Biden told the survivors they’re “living proof that America can never, never, never be defeated.” But I’m going to paraphrase the vice-president and say that those survivors– and all the first responders –are living proof that Love can never, never, never be defeated; that there is resurrection life.
The Governor called Boston’s recovery in the past year, “an enduring example… of the power of love itself,” and the former mayor reflected that, “Compassion took hold of this city, and it was a mighty force.” Love took hold of this city, and there is no force mightier. It took hold of people from all walks of life and united them. It took hold of Patrick Downes and his wife, Jess—newlyweds at the time of the bombings who each lost a leg. Downes was a keynote speaker at the memorial service, and he began his address by saying that, “…A year ago today we chose to offer our hearts to those in despair, and our treasures to those in need. We chose to love, and that has made all the difference.” That, my friends, is the power of the Resurrection. That’s resurrection life.
So if you’re wondering what Christ’s Resurrection has to do with our lives today, watch those runners tomorrow and the crowds cheering them on. Watch the team of a hundred men and women from all over the world running in honor of Martin Richard, the youngest fatality of last year’s bombings…Martin Richard, whose parents said they realized as the months went on that they wouldn’t run from the event, but would embrace it in order to heal and honor their son and “pay it forward.”
Watch Lee Ann Yanni and her husband, and all the other survivors who are part of the “4/15 Strong” team, as they cross the finish line. Watch as the entire city of Boston shouts a resounding “No” to the powers of darkness and an enthusiastic “Yes” to the gift of new life.
Watch and know that what you are watching is the power of the Resurrection…that what you are witnessing is resurrection life…and that it’s all made possible by the indestructible, inextinguishable, unstoppable power of God’s Divine Love.
Then go and tell others, with awe and great joy, that Christ is Risen. After all, you’ve seen it with your own eyes! Amen.