← Back to portfolio

Easter Sunday 2022

Published on

  • Every year as we approach these familiar texts, our minds start to wander. Never are texts quite the same from year after year.
  • And, if you'll forgive me for say something that might initially sound a little sacrilege, this year Jesus didn't seem for whatever reason didn't grip me as much. Instead, it was everyone else around him that grabbed my attention.
    • It seems pretty intentional that the writers of the gospels lead us there - in John, our passage today, Jesus spends a lot of time talking to his disciples, praying with them in the passages up to this week, and then we get to these moments, and he's quiet.
    • Other people take the stage in the narrative. Pilate, the crowds, high priests - this part of the world is starting to convulse from the impact that Jesus has had, but here on Sunday, there are only a couple folks around.
      • Simon Peter. He's had a week. Here's the one who was going to lead the church, and you can sense leading up to today the conflicts in his heart.
        • He can't deal well with Jesus being willing to do the task of washing his feet. He's denying it, controlling it - everything but accepting it.
        • Then, Good Friday comes, and he denied Jesus three times, just as he was told.
        • Now, stubborn and bullheaded as Peter is often, having him as a companion this week, I can't help but feel for him. Those denials aren't really shameful, they're honest. The rebuffs of someone who's watching their world collapse and they're afraid.
        • You start to wonder what's going on in his head during Saturday and Sunday. Are the words still ringing in his ears from the table? That Jesus, the teacher, won't be with them much longer, going to a place they can't go? How did he not know about what Judas had done? He has to be in shock, guilt, pain, shame? Who knows.
      • There's also the four women mentioned on Good Friday - Jesus' mother, her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas (who, far as we can tell, may have been a sister-in-law to Mary), and Mary Magdalene.
        • And they still loved and cared for Jesus then, just as they did that week, just as they had his entire life here on Earth.
        • Jesus loved them, and we hear one of his final acts being to make sure that his mother is cared for.
        • They too, imagine, come to today in grief for what they've lost so tragically, so violently.
      • Maybe that's us. Maybe we're a little like Peter, or one of the women. We carry a lot to days like today. And we are looking for that spark! Today, of all days, with the best part of the past and all of the beauty around us, we want to be relieved and find the respite of resurrection. But it's not made that easy.
  • What do we do with the beginning of this story in John? Jesus just plain isn't there.
    • How defeating that must have felt, given what they carried. Given the week. What happened? Did someone steal the body?
    • And it's so easy to skip over this, especially if we haven't had the chance to walk through the other part of the story - if we go from celebration to celebration, we almost start to think that the Jesus we're seeking is only there in triumphant moments, as if somehow the journey we take with Jesus was not a place to come burdened, broken, and unsure. And even more so, that it's not a place that in the midst of that, we might not see Jesus at all.
    • But what we might lose is that even in the midst of the shock, they walked on. They kept going, even if they didn't quite sense it yet, they were faithful.
  • This isn't the end of the story.
    • All four gospels tell this story a little differently, but one thing is true in all of them - they finally remember.
    • Simon Peter, in the midst of often times not getting it any of the rest of the time throughout the gospels, in John's telling looks around the tomb, and it clicks. The faithful walking, even if at first didn't reveal anything, did finally.
    • In the rest of the gospels, we have a similar moment, but with different characters and different themes - with Mark it's a group of women with a young man that could be thought of as an angel; in Matthew it's Mary Magdaline and there's an earthquake and and angel, and in Luke it's "women" and two men in robes. But there's always the sense in all of them that this conversation was a bold reminder that Jesus did what he said he would. And only in John do we actually get to see Jesus himself at the tomb. But in all situations, it's only after they've had to witness the empty tomb.
    • And, then, of course, the story continues in its brightness and brilliance. Sometimes I wonder if "Mary, Did You Know?" would been a more accurate song for today. Did Mary know what was going to happen over weeks, months, years, centuries, millennia - that the impact of what Jesus has done from day one of his ministry to his resurrection would completely change the world? And that it all came through walking and remembering?
  • It's funny, as I thought about and put this sermon down on paper today and thought "oh, this isn't much of an Easter sermon, is it?"
    • Because I think a not-so-hidden secret we might carry on both sides of this pulpit is that there need to be fireworks on a day like today. We pull out all the stops, and we want to impress you. You want to be impressed, and you want a grand slam, and I want to give you a grand slam! And we get to hear about the Jesus the triumphant one - and that is not false at all! But it doesn't tell the whole story.
    • What does that do for each of you after today? Oh sure, again, the hope is you'll come back, blah blah blah blah.
    • Because if this is all just a good powerful show, what happens when you experience a Good Friday moment in your life and all you've heard about is Palm, Power, and Resurrection? When you've gone looking for Jesus and you haven't found him because he wasn't there? You didn't get the chance to see everyone else around at the scene who have suddenly become front and center.
    • Just as important as the act of resurrection itself (the fireworks) is the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made from "mom, do I really have to turn the water into wine at this party?" to "it is finished." It is a validation of ministry, of promise, of God's presence with us. That everything leading up to the moment - good, bad, ugly - was valuable it because Jesus comes through, even when it seemed its darkest to the end.
    • And, in fact, it may have been at it's bleakest - the unknown empty tomb - is when Jesus's promises begin to spark the brightest.
    • It means that the same is true for us no matter where we are in our lives. That this space is not the only respite, nor is a space that is impermeable to the full range of the human condition and cultural tumult.
    • It may mean that while this day isn't as dramatic then, that the rest of the days, experiences, emotions, and human being does have more life to it. That the life of faith isn't one or two big exciting days that we fill the tank, but a steady walk throughout all of life that we live together as a community whether we can always gather here or not.
    • And that - a resurrection life without actually needing to be blown away by it - might be what Jesus hoped for all along.

Subscribe to get sent a digest of new articles by Adam Anderson

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.