Easter Sunday, Year B
We shall fear no longer sin, death, or the stock market.
Alleluia Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
This morning is a time to rejoice, a time of relief and joy. It feels as if even the weather has cooperated. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were gray and cold, a pall upon the land befitting a time of mourning. And yet this morning the sun breaks through bright and clear. All creation seems to break forth in Hosannas!
And so this morning we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and we, like Mary and Mary, now should go forth and declare that Christ is risen! Isn’t that just what they did, go and tell the others that Jesus had been raised from the dead? No, not exactly.
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. – Mark 16:8
Not really the ending you probably expected from this morning’s Gospel reading. They did not rejoice or thank the Lord, they didn’t even follow the directions of the angel but instead were scared out of their wits.
But who can really blame them? It is all too easy for us to imagine the grief and the anguish they had gone through. They had seen their friend and teacher brutally beaten and killed. Such a taking of life is always a tragedy, but they had hoped and expected so much from Jesus and it was all destroyed in a matter of hours, his life and their hopes and dreams. So when they arrive at the tomb they find it impossible to believe that Jesus has risen. How could it possibly be true? They want to believe and yet…they cannot. So they flee the tomb in terror, afraid to tell anyone of Jesus’ resurrection.
This year has been a time of great mourning and suffering for all of us. We have lost those we love dearly, have seen friends and family become seriously ill, and all of us have been effected by the economic crisis. Some of our hardships we brought upon ourselves, some are the result of the greed of others, all of it is because we live in a sinful and broken world. Like Mary and Mary we mourn those who are no longer with us and we fear our own future. This grief and fear can keep us from living, it can keep us from accepting and recognizing that the resurrection of Jesus changes everything, it changes sin, death… and even how the stock market should affect us.
The resurrection of Jesus changes everything because it affirms that he is the Christ, the Messiah sent from God to bring forgiveness of our sins and to heal this broken world. His resurrection is the triumph of life over death. Later in the same chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that was read this morning he declares
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15.54-56)
The resurrection is our victory over death. Oh yes, someday these perishable bodies will crumble and fall. All too often we see the frailty of these bodies and weep, as people die far too young, as they suffer with disease, hunger, and war. And if this world is all that we have, then we would, we should despair. But this world is not the end and this body shall someday be replaced, “for this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15.53). The resurrection of Jesus is but the first, just as he has overcome death so shall we for we have died with Christ and so shall we live in Christ.
The resurrection of Jesus is our resurrection and that means that everything has changed for us as well. We mark that transformation in each of our lives through baptism, the symbol given by God of our own death and rebirth in Christ. This morning we will welcome a new child into the household of faith and renew our own baptismal vows. Notice how the imagery and our liturgy speak of our rebirth in Christ. This is the power of the resurrection in our own lives. Because Christ lived as an example for us and died to take away our sins now we are able to live a new, transformed life in him through his resurrection.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he writes
Rom. 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
This morning we celebrate not only the resurrection of Jesus but our own resurrection as well. If this new year is like all that have passed there will still be wars and poverty, disease and death, suffering and sorrow. But because of the resurrection of Jesus we know that none of this is the end, while these perishable bodies will pass away we will ultimately be raised eternal life with Christ. And we know that there is new life for us in Christ yet while we continue to live in this world for through baptism we have been born again and we are already being transformed by the Holy Spirit. Death has no sting, the stock market cannot rule our lives, illness may hinder us and death separate us from loved ones, but only for a time. In the words of the apostle Paul,
8 If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.