The Rector’s 2018 Easter Sermon
During the season of Lent, we’ve been meditating on some descriptions of our Lord which we find in the Stations of the Cross – each of which invites us to behold – to put before our hearts and minds – some aspect of Jesus in his life and work: We have thought about Jesus as the Lord of Justice and the Lord of Beauty; the Lord of all Creation and the Lord of heaven; and today, we are invited to put before our eyes of our hearts and minds Jesus the Lord of Life and Love.
And that is what today is all about – it is about a loving God who comes to us in the darkness of our sin to make us new and to give us light and life.
That is God’s gift to you and to me – love and life. And there is nothing we need more in our own lives and our own relationships than God’s love and God’s life.
The story of Scripture is the story of our need for that life and love:
The Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden shows humanity walking apart from their creator – showing that at its worst, humanity will choose itself. The story of Noah and the Flood showed that as things got worse and worse, God still wanted to restore us to our rightful relationship to himself, but that simply getting rid of those rotten apples in creation wouldn’t avail us for our salvation – something more had to be done. Sin and evil would still find a way into the world – death still reigned over God’s beloved creation.
But then, with the Call of Abraham and God’s covenant with him began the long story of God’s eternal plan to save us from sin and death.
God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars in heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand on the seashore. And though Abraham had faith that God would fulfill his promises, when God told him that he would in his old age finally have a son – Abraham and his wife Sarah laughed at the thought – and so they named him “Isaac” – which means – he laughed. I like that little touch – right from the start of our creation – faith is joined with laughter – joy lies at the heart of our new life in God!
The story of God’s redemption is a long one. Slavery in Egypt, rebellion while wandering in the desert for forty years, the giving of the Law of Moses, entrance to the promised land, the creation of the monarchy, the building of the first temple, exile from their homeland in Babylon, the restoration of the temple. Everything that happened to God’s people would be a foreshadowing of the great things to come.
But Scripture not only tells us of God’s great and powerful acts from the beginning, it also reflects back to us our own need of his grace in order to live and love in this world. Human history is filled with people striving to fill themselves with life and love. But we end up filling ourselves instead with worthless things like power, fame, wealth possessions, relationships, people, drugs, money, – you name it – anything that might serve as a cheap replacement, a cheap imitation of true life and true love.
Easter tells us that we no longer need to accept a cheap imitation – we no longer need to look to “things” to fill us and to try to satisfy our every need. Instead, we look to Jesus, for he is the one who said “I am the bread of life”; he is the one who said, “If anyone thirst come to me and drink.”
Christ has risen from the dead – trampling down death – no merely of the body – but of our emptiness.
And I think that is where my thoughts are centered this Easter – that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we find we are filled with life and love – we are made fully alive – not as some promise of the distant future, and not merely of our bodies in eternity; but even here and now, in the very depth and core of our being.
I would say “if we look around in the world we see many people seeking to fill their emptiness with cheap imitations”: but I don’t think we have to look out into the world. I think we need only to look into our own hearts to find that we, the redeemed people of God – still possess in our own lives, our own hearts those empty places of longing, of pain, of anguish – places within us that are dead – places we put on artificial life support by feeding them with cheap imitations even though an innumerable abundance of God’s grace is offered to us – made available in Christ by the power of his resurrection!
Too often, in our weakness to sin, our unwillingness to give our selves fully to God, we accept those cheap imitations when the Lord of Life and Love stands waiting to give us the real thing.
And all we need to do to receive it is nothing more than to Behold the Lord of Life and Love; the Lord of Justice and Beauty, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and like Abraham – trust in God’s faithfulness that he will give us more than we could ask or imagine.
For when we trust in God, he will touch our hearts, he will transform our minds, and he will give us the grace to live in his life and love. We need not fear nor be afraid – for he has done the work of our salvation for us because we could never do it ourselves.
And that faith is joined with laughter, as we rejoice to behold the Lord of Life and Love – for he has given his life in love fully and completely to us so that we might have his life in us that we might dwell and abide in his love forever.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.