“He has gone ahead of you to Galilee…” Sermon for Easter Sunday 2020, Adel Parish Church.
Matthew 28: 1 – 10
What do you get if you pour hot water down a rabbit hole? A hot cross bunny!
Easter morning – a morning for jokes and laughter…a morning for laughing at the jokes even if they aren’t very funny…a morning for just reveling in the existence of laughter.
Today we probably feel we have less than usual to laugh at. Today for many people, tears will feel more appropriate than laughter. But that will have been true for some every Easter.
Matthew’s gospel tries to show us how there is cause for joy – in spite of everything.
Matthew’s resurrection story is a vivid, fantastical description…a great earthquake, an angel of the Lord – his clothing white as snow his appearance like lightning, the stone rolled away, the guards felled…
…is Matthew perhaps saying there is no ordinary way of speaking of the resurrection? Normal human descriptions don’t work, because it isn’t about what’s possible for humans…it’s purely about what God can do.
…angels appear rarely in Matthew’s gospel…announcing Jesus’ birth…at his transfiguration…and here, announcing his resurrection from the dead. They appear only when heaven and earth intersect, when God’s presence in the world is especially felt.
What else does Matthew tell us?
Both the angel and Jesus say, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of the strange awesome happenings…for here God breaks the boundary of life that we call death…here God does something completely new. Here God shows us there is nothing can separate us from his love.
The angels say, “Jesus will go ahead of you to Galilee.” Galilee – where Jesus’ ministry of teaching, healing, reconciling took place. Galilee, where Jesus showed what God’s kingdom on earth looks like.
The angel at the tomb says, “He is not here, he has been raised.” Jesus cannot be contained even by a tomb.
In these times our closed church can seem something like a tomb – empty of prayer and praise, empty of singing and sharing. But we are being reminded in new ways that important though our building is – the church is the people.
We will return to our beautiful, holy building and find God there. We will squeeze in; stand shoulder to shoulder; share the peace. But perhaps we’ll do so with a renewed awareness that Jesus is risen and goes ahead to Galilee – to be found in our community wherever healing, feeding, teaching and suffering are shared in his name.
We have perhaps walked the way of the cross more closely this year – we might have to work harder to hear above our worries, the wonderful story of what is possible with God. But it is Easter. Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!