Mark 16. 1-8
Easter is the first day of a newCreation!
I think the word my family would use is ‘random.’ Of course, I’d prefer something a little more complimentary … like ‘creative’ or ‘ingenious.’ But I’m pretty sure they’d say ‘random.’ An entry in the urbanDictionary defines it as spontaneous, off the wall. So, ‘random,’ in their mind would be … say … reading today’s gospel and thinking about how the rockyMountains came to be! But that’s where this sermon begins.
Billions and billions of years ago. When several plates that make up the earth’s crust came crashing together. Crashing, at least, geologically-speaking. One plate went down. Another went up. Thousands, tens-of-thousands of feet. And the Rockies were born. You think they’re high now. At one time, back in the beginning, they were three, four times higher. Taller than the Himalayas! But time, eventually, got the better of them. Slowly, surely, eroding them away. Earthquakes. Glaciers. Rain. Snow. Wind.
Anyway, this morning, Mark tells his story, one more time. His story of that first Easter morning. How the two Marys and Salome went to anoint Jesus’ body. How early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. How when they got there, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. How they found the tomb empty, the body gone. Except for a man in a white robe. Sitting there. Waiting for them. “He’s not here,” he told them. “He’s been raised! Go tell his disciples that he’ll meet them in Galilee!” So, they went out of the grave, ran away, and said nothing, to anyone. For they were afraid. And that’s where the gospel, originally, ended. Jesus raised and the women running away. Well, I read those words and, for some reason, I thought about the mountains! And the more I thought, the more I realized that mountains and believing have a lot in common.
In the beginning, they’re both amazing and terrifying, at the same time! Frightening, yet full of awe! Taller, more massive than anything we could imagine. But over time, stories – like mountains – have a way of being worn down. Worn away. All the corners. All the sharp edges. All the peaks. Are rounded off. Eaten away. Eventually, all becoming molehills. The spectacular becoming the ordinary. The exception becoming the rule.
Think about it. The story of the resurrection has been told for over two thousand years, now! A hundred generations have handed on what had been handed them. In the process, it’s been smoothed, polished. Nothing surprises us, any more. Nothing we haven’t heard. Everything reduced to cliché, platitude. “Alleluia! Christ is risen! r/Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!” The story, just like the mountain, crumbling and blown away. We take for granted what once had been inaccessible. We rush in where angels feared. Easter’s become , nothing more, than baskets of plastic grass, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps. We say the prayers we’ve always said. We sing the songs we’ve always sung. We know the story like the backs of our hands. And yet, the women told no one. They ran away. They were afraid. And we wonder. Puzzled. Confused. But what if …
What if they knew something we don’t? What if they knew something we can’t? What if this is Easter! Really Easter! Before it was worn down! Before it was worn away! What if this is Easter before it was tamed! What if this is believing in its primal, raw awesomeness! Irresistible! Overwhelming! What if this is faith in all its shocking, stunning, surprising simplicity! Face to face! Eye to eye!
“And they were amazed! Amazed and terrified! At the same time!”
They blink. They look away. They flee.
What if this very day is the secondComing Jesus talks about! Not just one more stop along the way! But the moment the kingdom comes! When god’s will is done! Easter isn’t merely an immortal soul! It’s not just a corpse come back! This day was – IS – the turning we’ve been looking for! The dawn of a new day! Wouldn’t we do the same? Run away! In fear! And amazement! We, too, wouldn’t tell anyone! We’re standing before the mountains as they were in the beginning. Standing before the gospel, the same way. Before it was eroded. Before it was eaten away! Back when believing was savage and raw! Wind-swept! Unbridled! Free!
I can’t help but wonder it that’s not what we’re seeing. Here. Today. In Mark’s gospel. The endTimes aren’t somewhere up ahead. It’s behind us. In every Easter we’ve celebrated! The secondComing isn’t an unknown day, an undetermined hour. It’s an open tomb. And it’s the message spoken by the one in a white robe. “He’s not in here! He’s not up there! He’s out there! Out there! Waiting! For you!”
Because of the cross, the world has changed! Different! New! Because of the cross, the grave has been opened! The stone rolled away! What once was dead is now alive! What once was captive, bound, is now free! Because of the cross, this is the new heaven and this is the new earth! And you … YOU are the new humanity! Recreated! Reborn! Not by your choices! Not by your decisions! But by the love god has for you! “He’s not in here,” the man said! “And neither are you! He has been raised and you have been raised with him! And he’s waiting! Out there! Waiting for you!”
My friends, this week, heaven and earth have collided. And like the mountains, faith has been born! Imposing Inspiring! And now, faith – like the mountains – are calling! Calling you by name! And we … we must go!