Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
This is the greeting that will echo across the world today, as it has for centuries since that first Easter Sunday morning.
Today is the day that we have been moving towards since the start of Advent at the end of November, and it is the day that will guide our journey forward through the rest of the year.
Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!!
This is the heart of the Christian message and what we are called to witness to at all times.
On this glorious feast day, we celebrate God’s steadfast love, God conquering fear and death, and the fact that this message is for everyone.
With Paul and Peter, this day is a chance to affirm the basis of our beliefs.
We need also to recover that sense of grief and despair that brings Mary to the garden in order to fully understand and participate in the astonishment and joy at finding her beloved, risen from the dead.
This possibility of encountering the Risen Christ is there for all of us to experience.
It is this active, risen presence that will come through our liturgies for Easter.
The Easter Season itself is fifty days, taking us to the great celebration of Pentecost.
Following that, we will move into Ordinary Time – the season of learning how to live out our faith in resurrection in the midst of our daily lives.
All of which raises some important questions for us. What does resurrection mean for us today?
If it is nothing more than some mysterious, magical event that happened two millennia ago, then our celebration is pretty empty.
If Christ’s resurrection is just a doorway to some personal realm of bliss after we die, then it also has little to offer us now.
But the New Testament argues that resurrection is not just something that happened to Jesus.
It is something that has always been built into the universe and that touches every part of creation.
You and I, heaven and earth, animal and plant – we are all resurrected, and we all participate in resurrection life.
Resurrection is not so much an event as it is the basic, underlying principle of all life.
Resurrection is not so much a past miracle as it is a present, lived reality, and a source of hope for the future – whatever it may hold, both this side of the grave and beyond.
Resurrection is not just something we receive, but a moving, motivating force that turns us into life-givers carrying life into our world in whatever way we can.
It is a familiar story. Indeed, it is the central story of the Christian faith. And yet it is a story that still has the power to shock. Christ is risen. And all is changed.
everyone has a place in our communities and are eager to invite them in to sit with us at the Lord’s table.
We see a similar message in our reading from Acts on this Easter Sunday, in which Peter is surprised to find that God has poured out the Holy Spirit even on the Gentile centurion, Cornelius, and his family. “God shows no partiality,” Peter exclaims. Notice, however, that in this passage, Peter is not the one who welcomes Cornelius’ family. Cornelius’ family are the hosts who welcome Peter. In fact, it is Peter who, at first, is resistant to entering the Gentile home. Yet upon entering, he finds the Holy Spirit has already entered ahead of him.
Practicing hospitality is a beautiful expression of Christian love deeply rooted in the tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures; just as Jesus came out of the tomb, the risen Christ calls his people out of their homes and worship places to encounter the hospitality that is given to them by others in places they’d least expect. Jesus calls us out of our communities to join the Holy Spirit at work in “every nation.” Perhaps our signs should say, “The Episcopal Church is coming to you!”
Who experiences transformation in this passage? Peter or Cornelius and his family?
When have you experienced unexpected hospitality?
In today’s passage from 1 Corinthians, the author paints a similar picture of the Church, which springs forth from Christ’s resurrection.
Experience of that life-giving resurrection was received by St. Paul from Cephas, the twelve, five hundred others, James, and other apostles.
It was then handed down by St. Paul to the Corinthians themselves.
And some time down along the line, knowledge and experience of Christ’s resurrection has come to us, today.
For this reason, Easter is not simply a celebration of an historical memory, it is a celebration of an ongoing mystery that continually takes place in the life of the dynamic, ever-growing, and ever-changing Church.
It’s noteworthy that in this passage, St. Paul does not say to the Church, “You were saved,” but rather, “You are being saved.”
Thus, on this Easter Day, we not only remember a resurrection that took place 2,000 years ago but we also experience our own participation in the ongoing resurrection of Christ.
What implications might the notion of “you are being saved” instead of “you were saved” have on Christian living?
How does seeing Easter as an ongoing saving event differ from seeing it as a one-time historical moment?
In John’s telling of Easter morning, Mary Magdalene arrives to discover the empty tomb and immediately imagines that Jesus’s body has been stolen away. She runs to find Peter and the other disciple “whom Jesus loved.” They come to investigate, but do not fully understand, and they return to their homes. It is Mary who remains at the tomb long enough to speak to the man she supposes to be the gardener.
It is only when Jesus says Mary’s name that she recognizes him for who he is.
A name is a powerful thing. We are told elsewhere in the scriptures that the God who created us and formed us also calls us by name (cf. Isaiah 43:1). When Jesus calls Mary’s name, she knows him as her teacher, and seeks to hold on to him. And he sends her out to proclaim the news of his resurrection.
Have you ever experienced Christ’s presence in an unexpected face?
Jesus calls Mary’s name and she recognizes him in that instant. How can we recognize the moments when God calls our own names?