Easter Sunday: Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time
The tomb is empty! Mary, followed by Peter and John, go to the garden tomb on Easter and are immensely puzzled by the absence of Jesus’ body. At first, they fear grave-robbers have committed a terrible deed. The idea of resurrection does not occur to them. What they see does not make sense. Then Jesus appears to Mary and calls her by name. In this tender encounter we are reminded how God knows each one of us so very well, knows us by name and at the right time calls to us so that we may hear and know God is speaking to us.
The Easter story is so remarkable. It is foundational to who we are as Christians. Yet to our post-modern minds, it is also difficult to comprehend. This Easter we will talk about the distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. The disciples knew well Jesus of Nazareth, the man with whom they had history and indeed, made history together. The risen Christ, whom we might call the Christ of faith, is God’s new creation. When the disciples meet the risen Christ, it’s like meeting Jesus again for the very first time. So much changes. Their hope is reborn. Their faith and understanding of God are radically different. I don’t think this happened all at once for them, like flipping a light switch or having some instantaneous epiphany. I think it took time for them to make sense out of what God had done and how they would now understand Jesus.
Easter tells us how God keeps coming to us and working in our lives. Sometimes God does something dramatic in us or through us. More often God gives us a nudge here or there, a gentle reminder that God is at work. When we are receptive to and welcoming God’s initiative in us, God can do so much. When we are resistant, we may miss out on what God is up to. For instance, we know that not everyone experienced that first Easter. The guards at the tomb did not. The religious leaders who put Jesus to death did not. It took Thomas a while to believe what had happened. It does fall to us to decide to open our eyes and hearts and receive the gifts of God. When we do that, Easter faith begins to happen in us. We celebrate that Jesus has risen, which means our hope and also our faith can rise.
Sunday we worship the God of life, who raises Jesus, who opens our eyes, lifts us out of any darkness and can start life afresh for us.
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