1. Today is a worldwide celebration, and each nation has its own way to give the traditional Easter greeting, and I would like you to proclaim it as loud as you can, responding in English, or if you know the language, in that tongue. You can even roll down your windows.
English: Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed!
Greek: Χριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη
Russian: Xristosu voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!
Aramaic: Mshia qam! Shariraith qam!
Latin: Christus Resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!
Swahili: Kristo Amefukukka! Kweli Amefufukka!
2. Discussions online and with colleagues about how to celebrate, what to do today.
A. Some say do it later—Easter is not a day!
B. Pre-record everything and spend the day with family. The actual day does not matter.
C. Turn it into an opportunity for a media blitz. Show off. Do weird things to show Christianity is hip!
D. Do what the Church has done for ages! Even if limited in number who can attend. (Well, I think you know my bias)!
3. Is today just a day? Does the actual day matter?
A. Easter is not a day—True ish. We do have a season of Easter; the fact of Easter does continue even when not on the actual day.
B. Yet, this is also mostly false. Today does matter, and while Easter season continues, as does life in Christ, it is important to celebrate the day.
C. Easter is most assuredly about a Day, and it is This Day.
D. Easter, in Fact, is THE DAY & needs to be celebrated by the Church, the Body of Christ, in as much community as we can muster in this strange time.
E. Easter is THE DAY! The central day of history, for Xns of course, but we believe it is THE DAY for the world. This Day changes everything!
F. X’s resurrection is NOT simply a symbol, or a metaphor, an idea. It is not primarily about new growth, or Christian new year for a change in current life, of a simple hope of something better to come. The Resurrection is a fact, THE FACT, upon which Xn life, and ultimately all life, depends. Christ is risen, this changes everything. For if Christ has not been risen, the Apostle tells us, we are most to be pitied.
4. On this day when we are “separated”, we return to the Church’s way of doing things. Today we hold the Mother of All Celebrations, the Feast from which all other feasts spring. We do this to ponder this new reality of the risen Christ, to enter into this factual mystery of our deliverance, of being set free, from the bondage of Sin, and through Sin to Death.
A. We light a New Fire—Representing the light, grace, love of God and the light that cleaved the darkness in creation…that light of God that purifies our minds.
B. We bless and light a Paschal Candle—the light of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Pillar of fire that leads us. The light of God that penetrates our hearts and dispels the darkness of our sins and the world.
C. We hear the history of Salvation and discover the continuity of the old Covenant with the New Covenant—the story of the two Passovers, one– the deliverance of the Children of Israel, and the other Passover- our Passover, the deliverance from Death to Life through Christ.
D. We follow the women to the tomb, find it empty, and are overwhelmed by the light of life! We proclaim the fact that He is Risen as he said!
Yet, we do well to remember that 1st Easter, as that is more like our lives this day. The disciples sheltered in that upper room, distanced from the wider community for fear of the authorities who had crucified Jesus. We shelter in our separate locations for fear of a virus.
A few were called out to see if the incredible news they were told is true. The tomb is empty? Did he really rise? We encounter not a specter or a spirit, but a living, breathing Christ who was crucified and still bears the marks.
That 1st Easter came not with bunnies & eggs & horns & treats & decorations! It came not w/ manufactured events to get us exited or motional. It came without a call to the media and the requisite coverage. It even came without a liturgy. It came despite guards keeping the tomb under surveillance. It came despite the police locking down and sealing the tomb.
This Day came because God has a plan to redeem us. This Day came because in that Divine plan Death could not hold the Godman—Jesus Christ. The Divine has taken human nature, and human death, and redeemed it for Himself, making it possible for us to be made like unto Him, so that His life can be our life.
He lives and we live in him. We live now w/o fear, because he has gone before us and conquered that which we most fear—Death.
Death, our ancient enemy, swallowed him and found that it had swallowed its own death. In bursting forth from the tomb, he has burst forth from the belly of that foul beast.
Sheol, Death, Hell found that they could not bind Him, as they had bound humanity, in the darkness. His light shone in that deep darkness and was not overcome, and that Light burst forth from the tomb bringing the first Adam and Eve, and indeed all of humanity with him.
St. John Chrysostom (ca. 400AD) in what is without doubt the greatest Easter Sermon, proclaimed:
“Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it was mocked.
It was in an uproar for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and as overcome by what it did not see.”
That Easter day, This DAY, came despite disciples huddled in fear, but it did not leave them in fear for Christ is Victorious and Fear and Death are destroyed. Easter comes to us to day—wherever we are. This is THE DAY of Resurrection—Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O Death, where is your sting?
O Grave, where is your victory?
These are the FACTS of THIS DAY. This is the FACT of THIS DAY: Christ is Risen, and Life is Liberated.
To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.