April 8, 2012


   We do not celebrate the Resurrection because it is a stupendous miracle that defies logic & common sense. It tells us something vitally important about ourselves & about God. First, ourselves. To be human is to be a saint. Not only is holiness a live option for ordinary people like you & me, but to be truly human MEANS to be holy. Loss of holiness is loss of humanity. Sanctity is the normal human condition.

   There is a popular assumption that sin is normal & holiness is abnormal. Holiness is not abnormal, it is merely unusual. Sinfulness is not normal, it is simply usual. Now the resurrection is not resuscitation as with Lazarus, but an entirely new form of life: something which can change the living dead as well as the buried dead. It transforms mere disciples who follow Jesus into apostles who are sent out to die & turn the world upside down.

   Holy Saturday is probably the most appropriate feast in the Christian year FOR THIS CENTURY. It is the one day of the year for which the church has been unable to devise a liturgy. It is a time of stillness & silence, & apparent meaninglessness. Jesus is in the tomb & we do not know what is happening, until we learn afterwards that in that grave calm quite literally all hell was breaking loose.

   Holy Saturday is a fitting model for our era, in which God seems to be silent in so many ways. We do not hear the voice of Jesus calling to us from the shore or in the garden, & the forces of violence & evil seem to be triumphant. A cloud of meaninglessness, nihilism, & boredom hangs over everything.

   Yet for those who can hear, the voice of the risen Christ tells us that no one is too far away from God’s love, no one is beyond resurrection, beyond holiness. Rather than celebrate this, it is easier for the unrealistic to say there is no death – only passing away. It is easier for the unadventurous to say there is no sin – only maladjustment. Any self-doubts & insecurities we may have can be taken care of by the power of positive thinking. However such delusions can only be afforded by the comfortable: they are at the core of a bourgeois religion which cannot withstand the test of brutal reality. So we make much ado about ecology, & fail to notice that the only fresh air in all creation is inside the sealed tomb.

   Secondly, God is more human than humane. The risen Christ chose to love people rather than wow them. He could have spent those precious few days before the Ascension building highways across Israel, teaching rabbis nuclear physics, wiping out malaria & illiteracy – sensible things like that. Instead, He took time to cook food for His disciples & ask “Do you love me?”

   He took time out from eternity to respect the doubt of one man, Thomas, & show Himself so that Thomas might believe. You see, we love God not for His power or His knowledge, but for His unbelievable graciousness. How mysterious this Jesus who in resurrected form cooks dinners instead of explaining quantum mechanics, who chats with the skeptic instead of telling the theologians in the Temple where they had gone wrong! It is not the way any god of our invention would behave.

   What all this adds up to is that Easter is for NOW, not something that just happened a long time ago. Unless it happens to us now, we’ve missed the point of our celebration. God is acting now to give US new life, new hope, new expectation!

   If we can truly know (not think, but know) that our redeemer lives, then we too can be among that number when the saints come marching in! WE TOO can genuinely celebrate the Good News that death’s terror can no longer intimidate or defeat those who live in the Lord by faith! WE TOO can be like the New Testament Christians, who did not say in dismay, “Look what the world has come to!”, but rather, in delight, “Look what has come to the world!”

   Even in the likes of us, others will be able to observe & feel the power of Him who teaches us that to love is to live. This is the power of God & the wonder of God: that even WE can be made new & freed from the tyranny of sin & the fear of death! This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice & be glad in it!  AMEN!