I was here before dawn. I watched the lighting of the first light. Watched the light push the darkness out of the way. Sometimes the darkness is comfortable – comforting. Sometimes I worry about what I will find when the light illumines the world around me.
Sometimes the tomb sounds sort of cozy – because we know it. It’s predictable. We know what’s in there. Nothing. Darkness. Quiet. There is nothing that is expected of us in there. Nothing is asked of us. There is just nothing. Death. The end.
What do you think it must have been like for those women to come and find the stone rolled away? The body gone? Terrified, it says in Luke. The women were terrified.
That sounds appropriate to me. Terrified is how I can imagine feeling if I were them. It’s interesting that it’s the women who go and find Jesus gone and the women report it. The women who would likely not have been deemed credible witnesses, who held so little power and who, of course, the men did not believe.
But of course the women, really. Because that’s how Jesus works.
The last shall be first and the first shall be last. The people you cannot imagine have anything to say that you need to hear or believe, that is likely who you need to pay attention to in the story of Jesus.
Jesus’s body is no longer there – no matter that he warned them. No matter that Jesus made allusions to a son being dead and rising again in the parable of the lost son and again in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Maybe Jesus tried to tell his followers in a round-about way – though Lord knows I don’t always catch the full meaning of the parables.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Why do you look for life where there is none? Why do you search for Jesus in that which is not life giving? That feels like the 10 million dollar question.
Where do you look for Jesus, when you are looking? And where do you find him?
There is a light in the darkness. The tomb cannot contain life, the darkness must give way. We must go out and look and see. And who will tell us about what they have found and will we listen? That likely depends upon whether or not we believe that they are a credible witness.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Tonight we baptised Sophia: welcome her officially into this community of Christ. Poured water on her head in the name of the one God who we follow and in whom we believe.
With her, we reminded ourselves what it looks like for us to follow Christ: loving our neighbours, respecting the dignity of every human being, caring for creation, turning away from what is bad for us and towards Christ and the love of God.
It sounds so simple. Like it should be the easiest most intuitive way to be. And yet – and yet. Living among the living is a far more complicated feat than we might assume.
When my kids were little they were big on Veggie Tales – these little vegetable characters who told the stories of the Bible and sang some pretty great songs. We had almost the whole collection. I loved them because they generally gave me about 30 minutes to get some things done around the house, like make dinner or go to the bathroom. But they loved them, I think mostly because of the songs.
And there is one song that has stuck with me throughout the years – I think it’s the one connected to the story of Jonah, but it’s a song about how our God is the God of second chances. How God doesn’t give up on us or on any of Gods’ good creation even after we get it wrong. And I had that song playing over and over in my head this year as I sat to try and figure out what to say to you tonight.
In the same way as the days get longer and the birds begin to sing again in the mornings, the rains let up a little and the flowers begin to poke their heads out of the ground and sprinkle the world that has been sleeping and dark and raining, with a little colour: we get to hear the Easter story every year at about this time.
We live through the week that leads up to this day, remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his last supper with his friends and his final teachings there. We live through the devastation of the cross and the darkness – only to get to this story that we heard tonight. Every year the stone is rolled away and Jesus body is nowhere to be found.
Why do you look for the living among the dead?
We remember this story together every year – reminding ourselves that this is not the end of the story but the beginning of our story, of our work together.
Even if we haven’t quite gotten it right before now, even if we have messed up, even if we have missed seeing Jesus in the world around us despite his efforts to be seen.
Our God is a god of second chances and we get to hear this story again. We get to be reminded that Jesus lives here and now, to splash water on a beautiful little girl, and to say with her all of the things that we commit to by virtue of being a part of this community.
Death is not the end. Thank God.
The stone has been rolled away, and as cozy as the tomb might sound, we cannot stay there either. There are things to do. People to love. Resources to share. This is not a faith in which nothing is asked of us.
This is not a faith, that if taken seriously, we can only share it through our telling and through our living. This is a faith that has us looking for Jesus in the living. Jesus wants us to look for love in life.
Our God is a God of second chances, death is not the end – still.
The stone has been rolled away once more. There is light and we can see and we look for Jesus among the living and in our loving and in our listening. Look for God in that which brings you life, in that which brings life to the world around you. Listen in the places that you do not necessarily expect to hear God, because remember that Jesus most often shows up in the places that we don’t expect and among the people that are generally all the wrong people – like me, like you, like us gathered together here in this beautiful place. Watch for where Christ shows up in Sophia’s life and in the community that surrounds her.
Do not look for the living among the dead. Do not look in the places that are not life giving, do not look in those places that take life, that pull you away from the love of God, from the love of your neighbour. Look for the life that surrounds you. Look for Jesus who lives.