Rev. Merv Lanctot
Easter Sunday St. Andrews 2020
The Resurrection and an Upside-Down World
Easter morning begins with Mary Magdeline approaching the tomb of Jesus, death spices in her hand. No doubt sad and heartbroken at the loss of her friend. As she slowly makes her way to the tomb, she is in a state of grief, a sense of loss and a hurt pounding so heavy on her heart. A hurt that many of us have experienced.
She goes to the tomb and there the stone was rolled away. Mary quickly goes and gets Peter and John! The two men run toward the tomb. They run as fast as they can to the entrance. One of the men quickly enters, the other at first hesitant. He too then enters the tomb. The Bible says they believed! They saw what had happened and what was now possible! They would soon recall the teachings of Jesus who said: “on the third day I will rise”.
That is where Easter begins, at the empty tomb! As the disciples look into that empty tomb, they saw what had happened and they began to realize the possibilities. For you and me, Easter begins where the Easter story meets us; at the empty tomb on Easter morning. We are asked to Believe! As we begin to believe; we begin to realize the possibilities. However, with our Belief, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ turns our world upside down as it did with the followers of Christ on that first Easter morning.
A month ago when I was appointed Priest in Charge of St. Andrews, I thought everything was going to be predictable on my first Easter morning on the Red. The flowers in the church, the Liturgy that we would share. The familiar greeting we have encountered in every church on Easter morning. “Alleluia, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia”!
You may have sat in the same pew for years. You may have thought you knew how the Easter service was going to go. Same old, same old! But today is different. The world as we knew it a short time ago has changed. 2000 years ago when Jesus walked out of that empty tomb everything changed as well.
When Jesus walked out of that tomb on that first Easter morning, He turned the world upside Down! The world was not like it use to be. It would never be the same. Resurrection changed everything. How we look at God. How we look at our neighbours. How we look at our church. How we look at death.
When the disciples entered that empty tomb they witnessed what had happened and they began to see possibilities. If God can defeat death, then what trial, or tribulation or problem can be too great for the risen Lord! And what springs from the empty tomb is Hope!
As Easter People we cannot miss out on this aspect of the Kingdom. We must reconsider everything, for the resurrection changes everything. It changes more than we have thought or imagined. The Resurrection changes our way of looking at the world. Resurrection turns everything upside down!
It is the hope found in Resurrection that fuels us. From Christmas Day till day of Resurrection, the scripture leads us into that great message of Victory. And as we look into that tomb we not only see what has happened but also what is possible. We repeat the message over and over, the same great message of the love of God. The message of the Incarnate God. He came in human form to save us and give us eternal life. Our hope, our possibilities, come not from the Jesus in the manger at Christmas time but rather through his life, his death at Calvary and the wonderful empty tomb of Resurrection. We now have life, to the full measure, pressed down and overflowing.
This hope in the Resurrection began with a small band of believers on that first Easter morning. This hope found in the Resurrection has been passed down through the centuries. It has touched one Christian family after another; resting in small hospital rooms, and nursing homes around the country. Young families, not able to visit their loved ones because of the virus – Covid -19. Through this pandemic, people are faced with the death of their family members and their friends. Tragically, they stand at a distance, heartbroken and sad. So many face death head on.
Today as Christians, we stand at first outside the tomb, just glancing in. Then we enter the tomb and see that it is empty and we too believe. We stand in faith in a Risen Lord. In the glorious power of the Resurrection! We come in faith to the long unfaltering line of believers who have preceded us. We come, each of us in our own way. We stand at the tomb and glance in. We not only see what has happened but we see the possibilities of God’s Promises.
Some of us run right in and we believe, some of us wait around a bit outside, glancing in every once in a while and then go in. Upon recognizing what has happened we believe and we see the possibilities for ourselves.
When you go to the tomb of Jesus there is no body because there is no death – He is alive! He defeated death! He kept his promise to rise again and he wants you to walk into the tomb to see that He is not there. That is why an angel rolled back the stone so everyone could see: He is alive!
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia
During our current circumstance, I think there are many folks afraid of what tomorrow will bring. The constant news on TV brings to the forefront the negative that can happen. Rather than looking at an all powerful God who is in control. Even in our time of chaos. It is so easy to be consumed with circumstances. We focus on our material world and a drop in the stock market or unemployment or isolation fears cause us to be tense and fearful. When I was going through my heart issues a few years ago, I caught myself getting anxious and fearful. I had to remind myself: that is not the response of an Easter person who Believes in Resurrection power.
But here is the key to Easter and those who know Jesus personally – We have a life which is not dependent on the stock market, economics, unemployment, and the like. Life is worth living because Jesus is alive and He has given us abundant life.
You see, the message of Easter is not that there is no death. It’s that death doesn’t have a hold on us!
There is a story of a little girl who had walked through a cemetery everyday on her way home from school was asked if she was afraid walking through the cemetery. She responded, ‘No, I simply cross it to get home.”
That’s the key folks! That is what the Resurrection and the stone being rolled away did to death. It has turned death into a harmless pathway to home. As Jesus was resurrected from death, so resurrection awaits us all. Those who are in Christ Jesus will be raised from death to life with him forever. The fear of death is gone!
No matter what we face. The world can be turned upside down because of a little unseen virus. We may be affected in so many ways. But here is the thing. We have a God that says he will never leave us or forsake us. For even in a world turned upside down, God brings it back to right side up through His power. He is in control. For not only is He the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, He is the risen Christ who brings us Hope!
Easter is the day that reminds us all that there is hope in this life and the assurance that we will one day walk through death and experience the resurrection to eternal life. As the disciples glanced into that empty tomb they saw what had happened, they saw the possibilities and they Believed and the world was turned right side-up!
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia
faith grows in the soil of hope
Rev. Merv Lanctot