Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Sunday, April 17, 2022

YEAR C 2022 easter

Easter, 2022
Acts 10:34-43
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Luke 24:1-12
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

This Easter, I wanted us to focus on hope.  So, you’ll see it on your bulletin cover, and on the stationery we used for the Easter letter.  And yes, on the offering envelopes you’ll see in your pew.  Hope is the point of all of this.  

Hope is what keeps people alive, when it comes down to it.  It’s what keeps people going.  The belief that tomorrow will be better than today.  Or that next week will be.  Or that next year will be.  Keeping hope alive is what keeps us alive.

In the reading we just heard, from the 24th chapter of Luke, the opening sentence is, On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.  But if you back up from there, to the end of chapter 23, you would see that it ends with this: The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid.  Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

They have watched Jesus be killed in a horrific way.  They have followed Joseph of Arimithea to the tomb.  They have seen the dead body lying there, and they have gone home to prepare the spices for burial.  Resting on the sabbath as required before returning on Sunday.

They are not coming to visit Jesus.  They are coming to bury him.  They have no hope that he is alive.  They have no hope at all.  They go to the tomb to do the thing that must be done by people without hope.  They are carrying the burial spices—hopeless.  Just doing what needs to be done.

And that leads me to thinking about us.  Do we have reason to hope?  I mean, just look around.  Americans have never been less trusting of each other, nor more divided from each other in our lifetimes.  We’ve now moved on to the next variant of COVID spreading through the northeast.  We finally got out of one war, just in time to be shipping arms to eastern Europe for another.  Our state legislators can’t even seem to draw a map.  Evictions are up, and inflation just keeps rising.  It’s kind of hard to find hope, right here in the richest country in the world.  But keeping hope alive is what keeps us alive.

And what about what we see happening on the other side of the world right now?  Women and children—leaving behind husbands and fathers— fleeing devastation and horrors brought on by immoral attacks on their homeland.  Like the women at the tomb, they take what they can carry, and they do what must be done.  None of them thinks by crossing  border they are heading to a brighter future.  

As many of you know, I am flying to Romania tomorrow with some friends to help where we can, to do what we can do, but—I have to say—my main goal is to try to bring hope.  To remind them that they are not alone.  And that tomorrow, or next week, or next month might be better than today.  Sure, people need food and water and medicine, but they also need hope.  Keeping hope alive is what keeps us alive.

But let’s go back to that reading from Luke, and the women at the tomb.  As I said, they have arrived without hope, to do what needs to be done.  When they get there, the stone has been rolled away, and there is no body, where just two days before there was a body.  They saw it; that’s why they went home without hope to prepare the spices.  And then, two men in dazzling clothes are standing beside them, and the women are terrified.  And these men ask, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”  And then here’s the thing.

The messengers say, “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.  It’s not a question, asking if they remember.  It is a statement, or even an encouragement:  “Remember how he told you.”

The body of Jesus missing from the tomb is not good news.  Far from it!  The presence of two men in dazzling clothes is no cause for hope.  Far from it!  So I ask you . . . Can you see where God is acting in this story?  Jesus is not there, so where is God?  Where is God making a difference?

In the remembering.  The men—these angels—the ones in dazzling white are messengers from God.  And what have they done?  They have told the women to remember.  It’s not a new teaching.  Not a new insight.  Not a grand announcement.  It is remembering.  They already knew these words; they had already heard what would happen.  They just needed to remember.  And in remembering, they are given hope.  Keeping hope alive is what keeps us alive.

And speaking of remembering, remembering is woven through our prayers, especially our Eucharistic Prayers.  They all begin with the priest reminding both us and God of what God has done in the past.  It is an ancient way of praying, and all the Abrahamic faiths follow this tradition.  Remind God and ourselves of how God has saved in the past, and ask God to save us now.  The whole first half of the Easter Vigil is exactly this.  To hear the stories of God’s action in history, and to remember.  Remembering is powerful stuff!  Remembering keeps hope alive, and hope keeps us alive.

“Do this in remembrance of me.”  You know that phrase well.  You hear it every time the bread and chalice are raised at these Altars.  It is not a new teaching; it is not a new concept: it is remembering.  We are reminded of what Jesus has done; we are reminded that he said on the third day he would rise again; we are reminded that he said, “This is my body,” and “this is my blood.”  We are reminded that God has saved in the past, is saving now, and will save in the future.  As our bishop is fond of saying, “God has not let us down yet.”

We do not hope because we can see the future.  We have hope because we can remember the past.  Not knowing what will happen, but remembering what God has already done.  Remembering brings hope, and hope keeps us alive.

We do not know what the future holds.  But we have hope because we remember.  And God has not let us down yet.

As those visitors said to the women at the tomb:  Remember how he told you  he would rise again.  And they remembered his words, and they went and told the others.  Today, let us also remember, and go and tell the others.  There is always hope, because we remember, and hope keeps us alive.  Happy Easter!


No comments:

Post a Comment