Rev. Pierre-Henry Buisson – April 12, 2020 – EASTER morning
Alleluia Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Today more than ever we ought to rejoice! Despite what is going on in the world and in our lives, despite that, for the 1st time ever, we cannot celebrate Easter together in our church, and that for the 1st time most churches are being closed for Easter, we are invited to rejoice because of the joyful and life-changing message of Easter. From our homes, alone or with family, in communion with all the Christians around the world, today let us proclaim Alleluia Christ is risen!
For more than 2000 years this has been the core message of the Christian faith: Christ is risen! After 40 days of preparation through a strange Lent; after the online celebrations of Holy Week where we followed Jesus from his entrance into Jerusalem to the Last Supper and his betrayal, from his passion to his death and burial, it’s so good to proclaim anew, Alleluia, Christ is risen!
The Gospel of John, like all the other Gospels, does not explain the resurrection, it just tells us that on the early morning of the 1st day of the week Jesus’ tomb was empty. Mary Magdalene thought someone had taken the body and ran to let the disciples know. The disciples just saw the empty tomb. It was enough for one of them to believe, it did not make sense for Peter. We know that the disciples would need more than the empty tomb to really believe in the resurrection of Jesus and understand its consequences for them and for the world. They would need to see him, to eat with him, to talk with him. They would need to experience the Risen Lord’s presence in their midst before being able to proclaim to each other and to the world around them: It’s true, Alleluia, Christ is Risen! There is no real explanation of the resurrection, there is no proof but the empty tomb. However Jesus’ resurrection is not a myth, this is the central piece of our Christian faith. If we can’t explain it, we can experience the Risen Lord’s loving presence in our hearts, in our lives, and in the world, like the 1st witnesses.
In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene is the first person to realize she was in the presence of the Risen Lord. True, it took her some time, because she did not even pay attention to him at first. She thought she was talking with the gardener. She only recognized Jesus when he called her by her name. Can you imagine the shock and the joy that overwhelmed her!
The fact that Mary was not able to recognize Jesus at first tells us something about the Risen Lord: He is the same, but different. The same, because she eventually recognized him. But different, because Jesus’ resurrection is not a return to his previous life. This is something radically new. This is something that none of the disciples could have imagined; something that was way beyond their expectations and their beliefs. To accept this resurrection faith was, and still is, needed. We can only imagine how fast Mary Magdalene ran to joyfully proclaim to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” Another way to say, Alleluia Christ is risen!
From then on, Mary’s life and later the disciples’ lives, were turned upside down. Confronted with the unimaginable, confronted with what looked crazy to most people, the first believers would not hesitate to proclaim to the corners of the world the joyful and incredible message of Easter: Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Their lives were turned upside down because they experienced the Lord’s presence in their lives after the traumatic experience of Jesus’ passion and death on Good Friday. Moved by the Spirit, led by the Spirit of the Risen Lord, the disciples and the first members of the new community of believers, could not keep for themselves what happened in Jerusalem: they had to proclaim that the one who was condemned to die on the cross as a criminal had risen, and is always present with us. They had to proclaim that the One who died on the cross is truly the Risen Lord and that to follow Jesus’ teachings, to follow Jesus’ way of love, is a source of eternal life.
Easter morning is the beginning of a new creation. A creation reconciled with its creator. That does not mean that the world is a wonderful place where everything is okay and everybody is happy. We know that bad things are still happening, suffering and death are still present. Easter means that the Risen Lord is really present to our world, really present to our lives, really present at our sides, even in a time of pandemic like ours.
When we proclaim the Easter message, “Alleluia Christ is Risen!” we proclaim that the world is more than what we can see or perceive. We proclaim that we too have experienced the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives. We proclaim that we are unconditionally loved by the Lord who is always calling us by our name. We proclaim that a new future is possible for us, for all humanity, and for all the creation, a future with God, a future which begins here and now.
When we proclaim, Alleluia Christ is Risen! we proclaim, like Mary, like the first disciples, like the countless generations of Christians who came before us, that we have been sent to share the Good News of Easter with those around us through our lives, through our actions. We proclaim that the Spirit of the Risen Lord, the Spirit of God, is working in our world today helping people to work toward reconciliation, helping people to work for more peace and justice. We proclaim that the Spirit of the Risen Lord is present and active through all the people caring for those infected with Covid-19, we proclaim that the Spirit of the Risen Lord is present with those dying and those mourning. We proclaim that there is hope and that in the end, all shall be well because we belong to Christ and Christ came to save the world. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. He is the Lord of life, and since our baptism, we already participate in his resurrected life. So, let our lives joyfully and powerfully proclaim to the world, Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Amen.