Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor
11024 S. Bell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
Reflection April 21, 2019
"Amazed!!!" - by Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
Easter Sunday is the Feast of Feasts, the most important day in our Christian year. Easter is the day we celebrate the great liberation begun by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. What began that first Easter morning was the rebirth of everything, the ultimate freedom of imperishable life.
As we remember that first Easter morning, we bring the past to bear upon the present. We remember the empty tomb. We remember the appearances of a Risen Christ to his disciples. We remember the victory of Jesus over death itself, a victory we all share by virtue of God’s love for us and our baptism into Christ.
At our Easter worship, we’ll recall the proclamation of Easter by the women in Luke’s Gospel. These women rush back to the eleven apostles and tell them what they have witnessed. They excitedly tell them about the empty tomb and what the two men in dazzling clothes said to them: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)
The apostles, true to form, think this is all idle chatter, that the women are speaking nonsense. Who could believe such talk? Maybe men in those days had as much trouble as men today listening to women? Peter runs to the tomb and comes away “amazed at what had happened.”
Yet the question the apostles faced then remains the same today. Do we believe what these women excitedly tell us through these many centuries? I pray our answer is a resounding Yes!
The Resurrection is not a puzzling doctrine over which we make an intellectual decision. It’s an invitation to fully live and to fully live now. It’s an invitation into the full freedom of life without shackles, without chains.
What happened that first Easter morning was not something that happened to Jesus alone. What occurred in those wee hours before the Easter dawn has also occurred in every one of us united with Jesus Christ. Jesus’ Resurrection signals the beginning of the Resurrection of everything.
What God did on that first Easter morning was to light the fuse for an amazing explosion of life and freedom. We’re anxiously awaiting for the explosion to take place but this explosion is as inevitable as the explosion after lighting any fuse.
The coming explosion is the resurrection of everything! And this explosion is unstoppable, inevitable, irresistible. This Easter explosion will shake the world and all creation into the eternal freedom of life lived in all its divine fullness.
Scientists speak about The Big Bang as a way to describe God’s initiation of creation, the start of our universe. Everything that comprises our universe, all the galaxies, all the stars, all the planets, all cosmic life was compressed into an incredibly small pinpoint. Then everything was unleashed at the sound of God’s creative command. The power of that divine command has been echoing for almost 14 billion years.
It’s impossible to fathom the enormity of the original cosmic explosion. Yet another Big Bang is on its way. Just as the Big Bang transformed nothingness into the universe we witness around us, so the coming explosion of Resurrection will transform our broken creation, our broken world, our enslaved earth, into paradise.
What began at Easter is continuing today. The fuse is lit and it’s burning. The powers of despair, darkness and death, the powers of oppression, violence and victimization, have been trying to extinguish that fuse. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can extinguish the Easter fuse.
Many of us, myself surely included, have lost loved ones to the ultimate sickness of death. Yet with Easter, the inherent sickness of our world has begun to heal, the fever infecting creation has begun to break, the chains wrapped around creation, are beginning to be loosened. Everything living has begun to get well. We are being steadily healed. We are being steadily renewed. We are steadily moving toward God’s perfect justice, God’s perfect liberty. We are, in God’s own time, slowly being resurrected. Easter is unfolding its healing, liberating power all around us if we but look through the eyes of faith.
Our earth at present only bears children who are too weak to live bodily forever. We, with all living creatures, are infected with the contagion called death. This seems to be a terminal condition for all life. Yet the Risen Lord is our promise that what appears to be a terminal condition is NOT so. The Risen Lord of Easter proclaims that death itself has been mortally, fatally, wounded. Death is in the process of dying. As Paul states in 1st Corinthians 15:26: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
As the German theologian, Karl Rahner, writes: “Jesus’ Resurrection is like the first eruption of a volcano which shows that in the interior of the world, God’s fire is already burning…Already from the heart of the world into which he (Jesus) descended in death, the new forces of a transfigured earth are at work.”
If we could peer into the amazing volcano of Easter, we’d see the power of God’s divine fire transforming everything with its passion and power. The ecstatic energy of God’s love is healing the earth and everything on it into paradise. Earth’s misery, earth’s bondage, is being radically transformed into Easter freedom and Easter joy. This is what we believe as disciples of the One so life-full that death could not long restrain nor contain him. Our freedom is near. It’s coming. We can feel it in our hearts. We can feel it in our souls.
On Easter, let us shout Alleluia for that first Easter. But let us also shout Alleluia for the continued healing of our world. Let us shout Alleluia for the coming defeat of life’s fiercest foe, death itself. Let us shout Alleluia for the power and the promise present in all of us who profess Christ Jesus as our Risen Savior. Jesus Christ is Risen! Let us live in the power of this amazing truth, our most incredible promise, our most healing hope! Alleluia!