Easter Morning, 2002
8am (lost the 10am one)
St. David’s, Pepperell
Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
It’s Easter. One of our options is to go with the cultural flow. Enjoy a celebration of Spring, of new life and hope. Declare a moratorium on worry. A day, maybe even a season, of optimism.
But God and Jesus have never promised us an escape from our lives. Rather, they consistently lead us deeper into our lives and then redeem them.
Which is too bad. There are times when a little escapism seems like a very good idea. And, for a lot of people, this is one of those times. Six months later, the second wave of grief over Sept. 11 is rolling over the nation. Grief not only for those whose lives were lost or shattered that day, but also for lost innocence, for the things we will never be able to take for granted in the same way again. The second wave, even though the first has not really passed away. And what can we do in the face of it all?
And as we gather here in worship today, Jesus’ people, our sisters and brothers, Arab and Israeli alike, are living through, or dying in, the latest cataclysm in a flow of terror and despair that has come to seem eternal. And what can we do?
And it’s not just despair about the world around us that we face. It’s the world within us, too. Confessions have skyrocketed, as have teary visits. Call me a cynic but I don’t think sin is up. I think pain and despair are up. It has become harder to repress and ignore our own suffering – the big things and the little, day to day things, as well.
And, tempting though it may be, Easter is not really an invitation to try just a little harder to avoid it all or to enlist God’s help in repressing it.
Easter isn’t about sweet, pretty, sunshiny days. It’s about Resurrection. And only that which gets faced, taken to the cross, made and acknowledged as real, can be resurrected.
Resurrection isn’t about disappearance. It’s about transformation. Resurrection doesn’t ignore our experience; it doesn’t erase any part of who we are. It redeems them. It turns everything, everything, it touches to good. It turns injury to pardon, hatred to love, despair to hope, darkness to light, sadness to joy, doubt to faith, fear to confidence, turmoil to peace, death to life.
Over time I have come to know that to be true. Sometimes I find it easy to believe and embrace. Sometimes I can see it all around me. Other times it’s not so clear. When I am hurt or lonely or afraid, or just too tired or too sad, then I, like the disciples at the tomb, look for Jesus and see nothing but emptiness.
But because of the witness of the ages, as well as my own experience, I try to be more like the women than like Peter and Thomas. To hang around and wait. Hoping Jesus will call my name – as many times as necessary to get my attention. And I know that if I am attentive I will hear that, and, having heard it, I will see with new eyes. See the resurrection and redemption all around me and in me. See that there is nothing, seen or unseen, that does not become integrated into God’s plan. Nothing that does not get turned to joy.
Christ is risen and, because he is risen, so are we. Even if we can’t always see how. Don’t walk away in despair. Stay in hope. And, if you stay, you will see the resurrected Jesus and the redemption of everything that is, in the nation, the world, and your own heart and soul.
That’s the promise of Easter. Not as easy as a quick shot of blind optimism, perhaps, but oh so much richer.
Christ is risen and so are we – Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.