Rev. Sarah Buteux            

April 17, 2022

Easter, Year C, Luke 24:1-12

To view this service click here. The sermon begins at the 33 minute mark.

 

Ok I’m just going to come out and say what I know we’re all thinking: 

Those angels were rude. Like, seriously obnoxious – right? 

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” 

I mean, come on, that has got to be be the most self-righteous, passive aggressive, I know something you don’t know, gotcha question of all time. 

What a horrible thing to ask people in the deep throes of grief. Because you know and I know and those angels sure as heaven knew, that the women weren’t looking for the living amongst the dead. 

They weren’t looking for a resurrected Jesus when they set out for the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. They were carrying burial spices, for goodness sake, burial spices they planned to pour over Jesus… to mask the smell of decay. 

Burial spices for the broken body they had helped remove from the cross, carefully wrapped in linen, and gently laid to rest. 

Burial spices for the man they had seen die.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

“Yes,” the women would have said. 

“Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?”

“Yes.”

“Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?”

Yes… of course we were. We helped.

So don’t go asking these women why they are looking for the living amongst the dead, because they were there. They saw it all.

These women….these poor women, know what they’re about. 

They know death. They know what to do with grief and despair. 

But resurrection? 

What does one do with that?

***

Later that same morning, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the rest of the women found the disciples and told them all that they had seen and heard. “But,” Luke tells us, “these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

idle tale.”

Ok, I’m just going to come out and say what I know we’re all thinking. 

Those men were rude, like, seriously obnoxious. 

Not because they didn’t believe the women. No one believed in the resurrection at first. 

But because the disciples dismissed their story as “idle.” 

It was a horrible thing to say to people in the deep throes of grief, because you see the greek word here is leros, from which we get our word “delirious.” 

Which is to say, they think the women are speaking nonsense. They think the women have finally lost it; that the strain of the last few days has driven them all crazy. They’re essentially accusing the woman of being hysterical. 

(As if these women haven’t handled the events of the last three days with more courage and composure, loyalty and levelheadedness than any one of their male counterparts.  I mean really.) 

But the insult aside, I get why they didn’t believe. 

After all, these are the same men who ran away and left Jesus to his fate, knowing full well the worst could happen. And thanks to the witness of the women, whose bad news they had no trouble believing on Friday, they know that it did. 

The disciples understand death. They know what to do with grief and despair. 

But resurrection? 

What does one do with that?

***

Today is our first Easter service together, in person, in 3 years, and yet you’re all hidden behind masks again because Covid numbers are climbing. 

I don’t mean to be a downer, but all signs indicate that the war in Ukraine is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. 

There were 3 mass shootings this past week. 

We’re heading into a recession. 

Women’s rights and LGBTQ rights are under attack. 

And even the progress we’ve made in the interests of racial justice (let’s not forget Ketanji Brown Jackson!) or on the climate front (let’s not forget that we’ve rejoined the Paris Agreement) or immigration (let’s not forget our work that helped bring Irida and Lucio home) – let’s not forget – and yet even the progress we’ve made and the good we’ve accomplished can still feel vanishingly small in comparison to the work that still needs to be done. 

I honestly don’t know what’s going on in your heads right now or what you’re all thinking and I’m not going to say that Easter itself is rude for showing up in the midst of times like these. But I will say this. 

Given all we’ve seen these past few years, I think it’s fair to say that we understand death.  We know what to do with grief and despair. 

But resurrection? I think we’re all still wrapping our heads around that one. 

Not so much the question of whether or not it’s real or really happened, but the question of what to do with that kind of hope in a world that seems so determined to dismiss it as an “idle tale.” 

What to do with the gift of new life when you’ve already spent all you had on the dead.

Honestly, resurrection has always been a hard sell. It’s not something anyone believes in at first. 

So if you woke up this morning not quite ready for Easter or – given the state of the world – not really feeling the whole resurrection thing this time around, it’s ok. I understand. 

I think we’re all a little out of practice.  I mean, watch this:

Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. 

See what I mean/not bad but we can do better…let’s try it again…

Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. 

Better… but let’s do it one more time for good measure…

Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. 

That’s good. I want you to hold on to that energy, that hope, that joy, because my friends, I’m afraid that the past few years have done a number on us. 

We’ve gotten pretty good at living in fear, preparing for the worst, isolating, and obsessing. 

We know how to cry and rage and resign ourselves to the things we cannot change. 

We’ve gotten used to disappointment. We’ve normalized bad news. 

We don’t wake in the morning looking for the living amongst the dead, any more than the women did. We’re not holding out for a miracle, any more than the eleven were.  

Which is sad but understandable. Depressing but logical. No one could blame us, after all this, for throwing in the towel, painting our fingernails black, and going full on emo for the rest of our days. 

The truth is that it’s going to take a lot of energy and faith…maybe more than any one of us has right now…to reverse course and get hopeful again, get engaged again, renew friendships again, learn to really LIVE again. 

Which, funny enough, is where I’m finding the good news in the story of Easter this time around. Because I’ll tell you there are days when I don’t have the faith or the energy to keep going either. 

So thank God the resurrection doesn’t depend on me any more than it depended on the women at the tomb or the eleven in the upper room or you or anyone else. 

The resurrection of Jesus wasn’t like the resurrection of Tinker Bell. Do you all remember that? If you’ve ever seen “Peter Pan” then you know there comes a point where Tink is down for the count and Peter begs everyone in the audience to clap if they “believe in Fairies.” If it’s a good night with enough children, the applause of the crowd brings her back to life. 

But here’s the most unbelievably beautiful thing about the resurrection of Jesus: 

it happened when no one believed at all. 

Ready or not, Jesus came back to us and he keeps on coming whether or not we believe in him or deserve him or even know what to do with him. 

The resurrection didn’t depend on human faith in God, but on a God who refuses to lose faith in us. A God who refuses to give up on us. A God who will not allow doubt or denial or violence or death to get the last word. 

So if you’re just not that into it this year, that’s ok. 

If you’re sitting out there right now feeling burned out or depressed or overwhelmed by it all, take heart. 

If you’ve lost your faith or have yet to find it, hear the good news. 

If sin and death don’t get the last word then neither does your exhaustion or your despair or your doubt or the war or the news or any of the other evils we contend with daily. 

You may be feeling down right now…as low as you’ve ever been…mired in grief….lost in despair. 

You may have no idea what to do with the resurrection.  But my friends, God gets the last word and God knows exactly what to do with it.

For Christ is risen. 

Christ is risen indeed!

And thanks be to the God who loves you no matter what, so, some day, shall you. 

Amen.