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Telling the Story Again (April 1, 2018)

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

That’s how we greet each other throughout the 50 days of this Easter season.

Easter is not a time for long sermons trying to explain the unexplainable.

Today we celebrate. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Today we sing and dance and rejoice in the power of God’s life. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Today we tell stories. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

We tell the stories of the triumph of God’s love and God’s life. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Today we marvel at the awesome life–giving and powerful love of God. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Karl Barth, the 20th century theologian, once said that “the goal of human life is not death, but resurrection.”

That does not mean that death is not a fearsome reality. What it means is that death does not have the final word. It means that as an Easter people, we trust that the last word is God’s love and God’s life. That’s what we celebrate here today — the goal of human life is resurrection.

We celebrate that goal by telling stories. Every week in church, we tell the story. We tell the story of God’s amazing and wondrous love for the world. This is our story, for we are in indeed God’s people.

And, as we tell the story, we are saying, “This is who we want to be. This is who we will be. This is us.”

Listen to how Mark tells the Easter story. He tells it very simply.

A man dies a gruesome death. He wasn’t the only one—Rome executed thousands of people in this way as an example to anyone else who might become a threat to Rome’s power.

His friends—his women friends, because this is the way of women—come to anoint his body before it is finally placed in the earth for eternity. This is the last gift they can give to their friend, to care for his body. “How are we ever going to push that enormous stone aside to reach his body?” they ask each other.

But when they get there, they find the stone already pushed aside. They rush inside, wondering what happened. Instead of the dead body of Jesus, they see a young man dressed all in white.

Frightened out of their wits, they were. And who can blame them?

“Ssshhh … don’t be afraid,” the young man says calmingly. You’re looking for Jesus. He’s not here. He has been raised. Death can’t hold him. Go … go tell the others. Tell his followers, tell Peter, tell Yme, tell Sharon and Mike and Joyce and Norm and Margaret, tell David and Suzanne and George and Ellen and Joel and Andrea and Clay and Caroline, tell Ed and Bill and Jim and Deb and Gwen. He is going ahead of you. Follow him and you’ll see him. Go. Tell them all.”

But the women, astonished and bewildered and terrified, rush out of the tomb much faster than they had run into it, and said precisely nothing to anyone. I suspect they were traumatized and thoroughly horrified by the empty tomb, the young white robed man, the missing body of Jesus, the claim that their Jesus was somehow alive and moving on.

They were struck mute. Mark ends his gospel here—with silence and terror.

So here’s the point, I think. If the women don’t tell … then someone had better start speaking. Someone had better start telling the story. Someone had better let the world know that Jesus is going ahead of us. Someone should say something. The goal of human life, after all, is resurrection.

That someone is me … and you … and you … and you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

This story must become the world’s story, a tale of life and hope and wonder, a narrative of transformation, a love story, a hope story, a story that throbs with the passion of God for the world.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus is alive and well … and living in Cranbrook. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

The God of life moves in our veins and muscles. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

The news of life becomes a beacon of joy for us. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

The last word of God now and forever is a word of life. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

The story tells us that Jesus is waiting for us, beckoning to us to follow. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Mark’s way of telling the story invites us to take up this story and make it our own … to go into the world with joy, confidence and hope that God’s love is alive and active in our lives and world. Alleluia! (Alleluia!)

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Thanks be to God.


Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt

April 1, 2018 (Easter Sunday)

Mark 16: 1–8

Isaiah 25: 6–9

1 Corinthians 15: 1–11