Saturday, March 30, 2013

Resurrection Responses

Our texts for this Sunday are Acts 10:34-43 and John 20:1-18, which can be read here.

As we prepare to celebrate Easter in the morning, an important caveat:  Easter is not a celebration of just a single day!  Actually, tomorrow is just the beginning of what are called "The Great Fifty Days" of Easter; over the next seven weeks, we will be returning to the resurrection again and again, trying with the earliest witnesses of the Risen Jesus to figure out what on earth just happened and what it means for us.  And then, actually, every Sunday is a "little Easter"--each Sunday is a day meant to celebrate and contemplate the resurrection, not just tomorrow!

This is a relief to me, because the resurrection is hard to get our minds and hearts and souls around.  It is unfathomable even to those who should have been most prepared for it--this is seen in the disciples' first responses of being pretty clueless and, after taking in the empty tomb, returning home and locking the door.  Jesus had told them this was going to happen; but still, they didn't know what to do with it.

What are we to do with the resurrection?  What does it do to us?  How do we respond to it, not just on the one day of Easter, but throughout our lives?  These are the questions we will be asking ourselves not just on Easter Sunday but throughout the Great Fifty Days and beyond. Jesus’ resurrection was not something people could hear about or experience and then just move on unchanged. It was an event that changed history and challenged all who learned of it to respond. And so, each week we will focus on a different character who learned of the risen Christ just hours, days, and years after the first Easter, considering how their lives were transformed. How are we, 2000 years later, still called to respond to the resurrection and live as Easter people, both individually and as Christ’s church?

We start with Mary Magdalene, who all four gospels agree was among the women who made it to the tomb before dawn on that inaugural Easter Day, and who was commissioned by Jesus as the first to share the news of the resurrection (I love how this encounter is depicted in the picture above, which I took of a sculpture in a Spanish mission church in Santa Barbara last year, as Mary sees Jesus outside the tomb). Join us as we celebrate the good news of Easter--that Jesus is standing beside us, even now, and that, as this great essay put it, "Resurrection is more than dead men walking: it points to the inbreaking of God’s rule over all that alienates itself from him." As we begin to encounter and respond to resurrection once again, thanks be to God for this news we need to hear again and again!

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