“The Sacred Blessing of Amateurs” April 9, 2023 Easter Sunday
“The Sacred Blessing of Amateurs”
Colossians 3:1-4 / Acts 10:34-43
He is risen!……. And welcome at long last to the Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can be especially glad, I would think, because if you think about it we haven’t been able the celebrate Easter without the threat of Covid hanging over our heads for a few years now. So yeah, this is nice, this is good; this is awesome. We are, after all, an Easter people when it is all said and done. Nothing gets us fired up; nothing grabs our heart tighter; and nothing is able to put us at peace more so than the knowing That Christ came to this earth to grace us with a love we could never imagine. And then when we rejected this very son of God. We were repaid with forgiveness we were repaid with mercy, and we were repaid with a promise. It is a promise of God’s Kingdom yet to come. It is a promise of life everlasting. It is a promise that death does not necessarily have the last word.
The events that occurred to lead us to this day; these are stories we know well. In spite of the disciples warnings, Jesus charged ahead to Jerusalem, Knowing full well that things would get ugly. You will recall that Jesus had told his disciples over and over how things were going to play out. (Matt 20:17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.
They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” As they heard these words, the 12 men that Jesus had chosen were skeptical, I’m sure. “Now wait a minute, we can fix this. Why don’t we just lay low for a while till things calm down? These people are fickle. They will forget about this like they always do.” But Jesus was true to his word and the story of his arrest, conviction, and execution has haunted us from moment onward.
The Easter story, however, Is one of jubilation. I mean, how many times have we heard the story of the empty tomb only to feel a little catch in our throat. How many times have we read it and felt. Ever so slightly. The sensations of cool morning dew on the grass and air that is crisp as only early morning air can be?
The story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been told in all four of the gospels. John tells us the heart warming story of Mary Magdalene stumbling onto the resurrected Christ thinking at first that he is the gardener. When Jesus reveals himself, Mary is wild with joy.
In Matthew’s account, it is Mary Magdalene and ‘the other Mary’ who stumbled in the early morning light to go to the place where the savior had been buried, and it is this account that I would like to focus on today, starting with the question, “What were they up to?” I mean, after the horrendous and gruesome events of the last few days, what was it that inspired them to slip away that early morning? Was it idle curiosity or did they hope to tend to the body as tradition would have them do?
Brian McGowan has a few ideas in answer to that question. He writes, “As so often , the great discovery was the work of amateurs. An amateur is, in the primary sense of the term, a “lover.” Surely the Marys went to the tomb out of love…if we know anything of human nature, we know that love was the primary force that drove them there. Love is a more reliable alarm clock than Faith or Hope – far more likely to get you out of bed and get you going early in the morning.”
They went to the tomb out of love. They went to the tomb out of love because that’s what amateurs do: they follow their heart.
One interesting twist of Matthew’s telling of the story is the presence of guards-probably Roman soldiers-at the tomb. They were there for a far different reason and verse 2 tells us. “Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid that they trembled and became like dead men.”
Has anyone here ever been so afraid that they literally froze up? I certainly hope not, but the women at the tomb were spared this overpowering fear when, as Matthew tells us, “The angel spoke to the women. “You must not be afraid,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has been raised, just as he said. Come here and see the place where he was lying. 7 Go quickly now, and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from death, and now he is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him!’ Remember what I have told you.”
He is going to Galilee ahead of you. There you will see him!
And once again Mr. McGowan reminds us, “It is only fitting that just as the tomb will not contain Jesus, neither can Matthew’s story. Jesus is not bound by its ending; he continues into the future God has in store for all creation.”
And you know, that to me is the glory and the majesty And just the coolest thing about Jesus being raised from the dead. We celebrate and marvel at the mere impossibleness Of a body of flesh and bone being raised from the dead, let’s save some of our wonder that the Easter story is not only Christ rising from the dead; it is also the promise that he is not finished with us. in short, The Easter message has to be the biggest and loudest and widest proclamation of love we will ever know.
Let me share with you an excerpt from a piece written by Steve garness Holmes that perhaps might speak to my point. He writes:
God did not send Jesus to die for your salvation. God doesn’t need any more gore. And you’re already saved. Jesus came to love. God wanted Jesus to live. But we killed him. The cross was not God’s plan, but our injustice. The cross is another lynching, another Nazi gas chamber, another shooting. What saves us is not that Jesus takes God’s punishment, it’s that he takes our injustice—and swallows it up in love. We’re not saved by Jesus’ suffering. (Plenty of people suffer more than he did.) What saves us is his forgiveness.” What saves us is his forgiveness, and forgiveness like this doesn’t come about without a whole lot of love. The one thing we continue to learn about the risen Christ: it’s all about the love.
HE IS RISEN. …. On this Easter day, let the people of this world know- if only just for a moment- that our God came to this earth to demonstrate And to teach and to convince us all of the sacred blessing of doing everything in love.
So I have to wonder, does this mean That Jesus is an amateur? By definition, I guess it does. But one thing is for certain: as Easter people, we are people of faith, we are a people of hope, and we are a people of trust. But there is no greater motivator than love. This is the sacred blessing of amateurs. Oh that we might learn to live and to love in the blessed presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ, guided by love. And in his rising, may we rise up as well; an Easter people, a resurrection people.
May God’s presence rest upon your heart In the Easter season to come.
HE IS RISEN.
Amen and Shalom