24 April 2011
One of the things that are striking about how Matthew writes about that first Easter morning is how his account involves so many of the senses. The women going to the tomb feel an earthquake. They see an angel, that the stone has been moved and that the guards are laid out on the ground, stunned. They hear a message from the angel. They touch Jesus’ feet when they see him. I’m not sure what they could smell, probably not bacon cooking. Maybe they smelled the damp earth of early morning or the soft dust stirred up by the earth moving.
This account of the resurrection is dynamic, active and all encompassing. Nothing is left behind. I think that’s intentional because God knows us well. God knows that in the face of good news, many of us will try to look behind the scenes and say, “How did this happen? How does this work?” We’re a little bit known, we early people to the tomb, for looking a gift horse in the mouth.
We don’t get a how, though. However the resurrection happened, whatever occurred in the tomb in the hours between sealing and unsealing, we don’t know. And that’s intentional.
Instead, we hear about the earthquake, a reminder like the star of Bethlehem that all creation is affected by the action of God on earth and in the earth. The earthquake can stir up for us thoughts about recent events in Japan, New Zealand and Haiti. As Alaskans, it can bring up memories or stories we’ve hear about the Good Friday quake of 1964. We know those destructive moments are harsh and horrible and we wrestle with why they are a part of this life. Yet, the presence of the earthquake on Easter morning reminds us that there is nothing on earth that is powerful enough to overcome God and God’s desire for life.
We see the flowers, the lilies and carnations- symbols of life bursting forth. The flowers not only remind us of life and resurrection, they bring to mind vulnerability. The blossom is the soft part of the flower- housing the future seeds, the future of the plant. In order to survive, the plant must produce those seeds and then bloom so that the seeds can go forth. It has to risk showing softness. So God did in Jesus- take a chance on becoming like us, vulnerable and exposed. Yet, the bloom of Christ could not and cannot be crushed- it sends forth seeds of good news, of life and grace, even to this day.
We hear Alleluias, trumpets and organs. We hear voices stretching to reach notes and hands keeping time against chairs. We know that what our words cannot express, God’s gift in music will. The joy of resurrection soars beyond your ability to sing and mine and unites us with people around the world and the chorus of saints who have gone before. No rock need sing for us on this day… Alleluia.
We taste the promise of God and the promise of togetherness in the Holy meal at the Lord’s Table. The experience is both mundane and overwhelming. Christ is alive. Christ is present. He is risen!
There is no understanding the how of resurrection on this day or any other. All we have is a feast for the senses that reminds of Who and Why. Who? God in Jesus. Why? Because God so loved the world.
Love wins. That’s all we can know. All the rest is experience. Feel it. Taste it. See it. Hear it. Share it.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.