March 31, 2013
Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. – Luke 24: 9
In his book Screwtape Letters (a story of a senior devil writing to his nephew, a junior devil who has been sent to earth to harass christians) C. S. Lewis describes one piece of advice given: “Never let those christians see the banners flying.” This is a reference to the resurrection banner depicted in Christ’s hand in some paintings. Today is the day for flying banners. It is THE celebration day for us.
To appreciate the Easter story better, let’s back up & take a running leap into it – all the way back to Ps. 30. It seems to be the thoughts of an elderly person who had apparently suffered some severe physical illness, but also who had been mistreated by other people. He had experienced the healing presence of God in his life & wrote a song about it:
O Lord, my God, I cried out to you & you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the nether world …. Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones, & give thanks to his Holy Name. For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing …. You changed my mourning into dancing …. O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
Easter has made all the difference for us ever since it happened. It is, among other things, the sign as well as the means by which God gives us His power. God is always acting to bring new life. Out of our despair He brings hope; out of our brokenness He brings wholeness; out of our sorrow He brings joy; out of our death He brings life. Today is the day, above all other days, that we celebrate this tremendous fact: it is the day that our mourning becomes dancing!
Like most of us when something horrible happens, the disciples couldn’t believe that the resurrection was really happening. They kept expecting Him to find a way out, to escape in the last reel. But He didn’t. As the old saying goes, “God didn’t stop the crucifixion; he rose from the dead.” But they were so numbed by events that they couldn’t believe that at first, either. Their hearts were filled with bewilderment & wonder. But before the day was over, the wonder turned to sheer joy.
There is a story told of a grandfather who went to church every Sunday with his daughter & little grandson. The daughter sang in the choir while the grandfather & little boy sat in one of the front pews. However, there was a problem. The grandfather always went to sleep during the sermon & every now & then would let out a loud snort or snore. So one Sunday the mom said to her son, “I’ll give you 25 cents per week if you will keep your grandfather awake.” For a while it worked. Whenever grandfather began to nod off, the grandson would give him a nudge. But on Easter Day, of all times, there came a snort from grandfather that resounded throughout the church. Embarrassed, the mom said to her boy afterwards, “I thought I was paying you to keep grandfather awake!” “Yes,” said the little boy, “but grandfather is giving me 50 cents to let him sleep.”
Awake, grandfathers & grandmothers, father & mothers, sons & daughters, all! Christ is risen! Whenever this is real for us, we cannot keep it to ourselves or it will fade & die. But if we share it with others, it has a way of becoming stronger & stronger within us. There are so many who need to know of it – those needing forgiveness, & those hurting in any of a hundred different ways.
The risen Christ is in us, ready to transform our mourning into dancing. As we approach the open tomb with Mary Magdalene, those who are hurting the most, who are weeping the most because of their need for Him, let Him come to us so that we may be made whole. It’s a great day for the people of God! AMEN!