HOMILY FOR EASTER DAY 2015
I want to make a rather startling assertion this morning. If you want to see what the Resurrection looks like, look in the mirror. And look at the person next to you. You are the Resurrection! We are the Resurrection!
As Christians, we follow the One who said to his disciples things like “You are the light of the world,” and “You will go on to do greater things than I have done.” Jesus in all things was paying it forward, investing trust and life in the little community that would bear his name. The Cross was his ultimate way of investing his life in the future of humanity, but the Resurrection was happening all the way along as the life of Jesus was transmitted from the Master to his followers. Jesus simply brought people to life – that was what he was about from Day One.
Paul says “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This is a proclamation of reality of the Resurrection. Pentecost consolidated the fact that this life is in us. The life of Christ is you – we are the living Christ. St Teresa gave expression to this same reality by saying “Christ has no body but yours.”
Not only that – on a weekly basis the faithful seek to renew that real presence within themselves as they incorporate the body and blood of Christ by participating in the spiritual practice of the Eucharist.
St Paul said that the Church, the community of the faithful, was the Body of Christ, that “we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his;” and “that if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.” To me there has been no more compelling and inspiring meditation about the way in which the life of Christ interacts and intermingles with our life than this by Symeon the New Theologian:
We awaken in Christ’s body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ,
He enters my foot, and is infinitely me.
I move my hand,
and wonderfully my hand becomes Christ,
becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly whole,
seamless in His Godhood).
I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? —
Then open your heart to Him
and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ’s body
where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us utterly real,
and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged,
is in Him transformed
and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
he awakens as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.
“Do my words seem blasphemous?” I love it when people assume this is a bit of modern New Age heresy, and I can tell them it was written by a monk of the Orthodox Church — in the 11th Century!
This is the expression of a profound faith in God incarnate, who did not merely visit humanity but inhabited it in such a way that Resurrection, and being fully alive, becomes the norm, and death has no more dominion.
This kind of theological and spiritual expression reminds us that the truth of God is an embodied truth, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, and in turn embodied in each one of us. Indeed, Meister Eckhart went so far as to say “every creature is a word of God.”
We are the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27); we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) – as St. Paul teaches. We are the Resurrection in its ongoing and visible form. Of course there are another dimensions to that, but rather than operating absolutely independent of human life, it seems that God has imbedded his life, his Spirit, within us, and, as many great mystics and spiritual people have discovered, “the kingdom of God is within us,” as Jesus said, and that is primarily where we must seek to find it.
What does the Resurrection symbolize or represent? What is it saying to us about the nature of God and the way things are? Easter reveals to that death is not our typical state of being, which calls us to life as opposed to mere existence. God is what causes us to have meaningful and abundant life – to be fully alive – often in the face of powerful life-negating factors. God is that factor that enables us to use our freedom to serve others and build community. Ultimately, as John says, God is love (1 John 4). The Resurrection is the triumph of the love of God.
Choose life, the Bible says. God is about life, and the Resurrection as a continuing reality enables us to believe that the way of violence and oppression is ultimately futile in the face of a God who is so irrepressibly insistent on life – in Christ shall all come to life (1 Corinthians 15).
Christ within us gives us faith to believe that no matter what may have happened last Friday, today is a new day.
The Resurrection points us in the direction of new life emerging; the rock rolled in front of the tomb speaks of the futility of religious and political systems – in fact all extensions of the ego — that attempt to control reality or limit what God is about, and urges us to open up to the most (as yet) unbelievable possibilities and potentials.
We – you and I — are the Resurrection. We are the life that continues to carry the message and claims and presence of Christ into the world. Whatever the Resurrection looked like then, we know what it looks like now: it looks like people like you and communities like this and celebrations like we are having now, all of which are an expression of that life that is in us, a life that in turn links us to the life of the whole cosmos.
Think about it: why did you come today? Your real motive and reason for being here might be a lot more interesting than you assume. Why do you persist in trying to do something meaningful or good with your life? Why do you continue to orient toward life and hope? Why do you continue to want to associate with other people and seek community? Why do you tend toward positive creativity rather than being merely negative and destructive? For me, the answer is “Christ in us.”
Christ is risen! We are risen! It is the great “I am” of the Christian life.
Your presence here is both expression and evidence of the Resurrection at work in you. Trust that the living Christ is at work in you, and rejoice, because through you, the living Christ sees, touches, blesses, heals and serves the world that God loves.
Happy Easter! Alleluia!
The Ven. Grant Rodgers+
Isaiah 25:6-9 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Acts 10:34-43 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,
but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Mark 16:1-8 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.