Mark 16 1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salo'me, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?" 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; --it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you." 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.
Christ is Risen! Today we celebrate the most important holiday in our church calendar year. Although the secular world makes it seem like Christmas and Jesus’ birth is the most important the truth is that without the resurrection – without Easter morning – there wouldn’t be a Christian faith. In fact it was in the fulfillment of the resurrection that our faith was born not in the birth of a baby but in his death and resurrection.
So why do we spend so much more time, energy and money celebrating his birth? It is simple, Jesus’ birth is much more believable then Jesus’ resurrection. It is easy to celebrate Christmas in a time when secularism has made Christmas just another holiday but Easter? Easter bunnies are OK but once you start getting into the resurrection, you lose people. I believe that it was the intellectual revolution that birth the idea that “faith is private” and it was embraced by all because at the end of the day, resurrection is not only difficult to explain it is difficult to believe.
So Easter has become a day when we dress up and head to church before having a family dinner. Easter has become a time for Easter eggs and bunnies. Easter has become second class to Christmas and it yet another time of year for people to show up at church to prove their faith.
But what faith are we proving on Easter? In today’s passage we hear how some of the women went out early in the morning to anoint Jesus’ body but instead of finding Jesus, they were met with an angel who declared Jesus’ resurrection. But instead of turning around and sharing this wondrous news they in fear kept it to themselves. And isn’t this like ourselves today? Because we can’t explain this mystery or miracle and in fear of the judgment from our friends, family, co-workers, the world, we choose not to. We hide our faith in fear and don’t share the Good News.
That is the reality of our faith…not the risen Christ…but the fear of judgment shapes our faith. And not the judgment that will come with the Kingdom of God but the judgment that comes from those in the here and now. And that is where our faith has found its flaw. We spend far too much time wondering how people in the here and are going to perceive our actions instead of asking ourselves What Would Jesus Do. But this fear of judgment also leads us to becoming some of the worse judges doesn’t it? Qualifying everyone and forgetting how to love.
But there is good news! Christ is risen! Today, we once again celebrate this amazing mystery that defined our beliefs. Once again we celebrate this amazing miracle that invites us to experience God in a new way and open ourselves to a relationship with the Holy unlike what was offered before. For through the resurrection of Christ not only was the divinity of Christ revealed but the Holy Spirit was gifted to us. And today, because of Christ’s resurrection you too are offered this unique relationship with the Divine. You, me, all of us are made worthy through Christ’ death on the cross to experience God through the Holy Spirit in amazing ways.
Through a relationship with God, we are made worthy. The judgment of others, the need for approval by those who are just as fake as you are doesn’t matter. Because when you are truly in a relationship with God you will experience not only the amazing relief that comes with forgiveness but the unconditional love that Christ wants us to spread. You see, unconditional love, the love that comes from God, the love that Christians are asked to spread, is the love that doesn’t judge.
But it isn’t easy to live out our faith; it took the disciples several encounters with risen Christ before they believed; and today we aren’t so lucky, or are we? I think it is a myth for us to say that today we don’t encounter the risen Christ. For in living out our Christian faith, we meet Christ and see Christ everywhere. Christ is in the eyes of the grateful poor, Christ is in the hands of the doctors and nurses that perform miracles every day, Christ is in the hearts of those who love unconditionally and Christ is in all those who believe and strive to live better because of this relationship. Christ is risen and doing work all over the world for along with Christ resurrection came the gift of the Spirit and the light of Christ that shines through each and every one of us. As long as we believe. As long as we let our beliefs lead our life and not the judgment of others. Christianity isn’t about judgment (unless God is doing the judging) but is instead about the freedom that comes with a true relationship. The freedom from sin, the freedom from the bondages of the secular world and the freedom to love unconditionally. Our Christian faith isn’t about a baby who was born but about the man who was resurrected, about the love that God has for humanity and the new way in which we enter into relationship with the Divine. One not held back through fear, not held back because of societal clashes but one that transcends this life. One that opens us up to the Kingdom of God and the experience of the risen Christ.
So this Easter, I challenge you, to not make this an Easter that goes by without a conversation of what the risen Lord has done for you. I challenge you to make this Easter not just about another family dinner or one more Church service but about the true relationship that the Holy is offering. I challenge you to not just repeat “Christ has Risen INDEED” unless you are truly willing to share that with those you meet – teaching and sharing about the risen Christ you have encountered.