Easter, 2019

Mk. 16:1-7a

 

Our text opens with incredulity…

We live in an era where we should be most open minded about the incredulous. We now know enough to know what we don’t know. Over half of the universe is composed of matter that we can’t see and we have don’t really have a clue about the basic principles of physics that guide black holes.

Just last week, scientists took pictures of the event horizon of a black hole for the first time. We can’t actually see the black hole itself because the gravity at the center of the vortex is so great that it swallows light.

Astro-physicists suspect that the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way contains the energy of 4.1 million of our suns. Stop right there, when you try to imagine 4.1 million suns, it is putting 5 gigs of data into the 1 gig chip that is your brain. You just crash.

The Black Hole that scientists photographed last week was 55 million light years away, so we were actually peering back in time 55 million years. That Black Hole is estimated to contain the energy of 6.5 billion suns.

By the way, since they vibrate, Black holes actually emit sound, although we are too far away for the sound to reach us. Mark, the note this one hit was a B flat, kind of like our B flat, only this one is 57 octaves below Middle C. We humans couldn’t hear this one. The human ear can only hear an oscillation period that lasts 1/20th of a second. This oscillation lasted 10 million years.

You can read a statement like that but you can’t actually even imagine it. Your brain isn’t that good. Said the professor from Yale that coordinated this project, “We are staring into the portal of eternity.”

This morning, spiritually speaking, we are imaginatively staring into the portals of eternity. Our posture is also full of wonder and respectful awe.

“The resurrection is not something to be proved, it is to be known and experienced. For faith is not belief without proof, it is trust without reservation. We can’t think our way into a new life, but we can live our way into an entirely new way of thinking.

“Faith is the willingness to risk our lives on the conviction that while we humans can kill God’s love for us, we can never keep it dead and buried.

“Faith is the conviction that there is more mercy in God that sin in us. ‘Father, forgive them for the know not what they do.’ ..Faith is the affirmation that the well of God’s love is deeper than the abyss of death. It is the conviction that there is more mercy in God’s embrace than there is sin in our resistance.

“Yes, hate kills, but love ultimately never dies, never dies with God, never even dies with us. Love is stronger than death. So, the Easter message says essentially that all that tenderness and strength, all that beauty and goodness that on Good Friday we scourged, buffeted, and stretched out on all cross- all that goodness incarnate is once again alive. “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the close of the age”

“We move from Good Friday despair to Easter hope when we accept God’s forgiveness and love.

“We don’t get to know what is beyond the grave, just who. As St. Paul said, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

If death is no consequence to God, my brothers and sisters, it need not be of consequence to us. “For I am persuaded”, says St. Paul, ‘that neither death nor life, nor anything in all creation, can separate us from the love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rms. 8:38-39).

As John puts it, perfect love casts out fear.

We anxious about the past; we fear our future; we fear for our children and our friends, we fear financial precariousness, we fear random events, we fear so many things twice removed that we cannot control-we fear too many waking hours of our life…

“In the resurrection, our fears are met with the glory of God reflected in a human being who is fully alive. We are bathed in hope.

“Easter is a call to our small band of fearful disciples to live the truth of hope in a world of illusory despair. For there is no limit to what love can do. Love is a miracle. It is a basket of five loaves and two fish which couldn’t possibly feed this huge crowd, until you start to give it away.

 “My brothers and sisters, “If Christ is risen, we too can rise, like the paralytic man that was healed by Jesus. He said “My son- my daughter, your sins are forgiven you. Take up your pallet and walk.”

No longer paralyzed, our feet are free to walk out of a job that is hurtful to others or meaningless to ourselves. We are free to walk away from dysfunction. Our feet are free to walk towards others in love. We find our real meaning in relationships of mutual dependence. That is what we describe at the end of our lives.

No longer paralyzed, our eyes no longer need be fixed on some status symbol that has controlled us far too long. We can lift our gaze to the risen Lord, and find spiritual abundance through our compassion towards those in need that we can heal.

No longer paralyzed, we can extend our hands and point towards something above us to keep us from living in ways that are beneath us. The dignity of freedom.

My son, my daughter, your sins are forgiven you. Rise, take up your pallet and walk in spiritual freedom.

And rejoice… For “joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” So this day, live out of your joy. Love your people with abandon, delight in children gathering eggs in the spring sunshine and bask in the unbearable lightness of being. Amen.[i]

 

[i] The quotes in this sermon all come from Bill Coffin. This year, I read his sermons at Riverside Church in New York from 1978-1982 and incorporated his most quotable quotes.

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