Sunday, March 31, 2013

Remember-Listening for Alleluia

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Remember.

Remembering is a complicated thing. For one man who’d been a colonel in the Air Force, his inability in later life to remember made him agitated and confused. Most days he believed he was flying planes again. It had nothing to do with reality. But as soon as it was time for communion and The Lord’s Prayer, he stopped, smiled and knew all the words. For a moment something changed. Somewhere buried deep inside was faith and joy in a moment with the risen Christ. Remember.

We all have things we remember. Especially when it comes to holidays and loved ones. As soon as someone says “Easter” you think of it- a certain candy, a meal, a particular decoration. It’s not Easter without it. For my mother in law, it’s those marshmallow Peeps. And Easter baskets. She’ll have a basket for each of the kids even though some are in their 20’s. And there are crocheted plastic egg covers that look like chickens. Made by her mother who is dead for quite some time. Even though there are no little ones looking for eggs as soon as we walk in someone will look up on the mantel to see them lined up. And for a moment I’ll remember Steffy. Until next Easter. It isn’t really the same without Steffy and the tradition is a little hollow.

The paper ran a question about what tradition people are looking forward to this Easter. Only one person mentioned Church. She said she looked forward to dinner after her son’s family came from church. But church is just a scheduled social event that happens. Easter is just a day. Our traditions, while we have them they don’t always change the things that leave us perplexed or confused in this world And we follow the traditions out of devotion even if they don’t have a lot of meaning for us. Or little to offer our reality. The women who went to the tomb knowing what to expect and going out of devotion to tradition. To do the expected even if they didn’t really want to. They went expecting to see something particular.

To be reminded what was dead and past. But then they arrive and are confronted by something altogether different. The tomb is open and there is no body. And they are greeted by the Messengers. They’re terrified, and fearful, and perplexed, perhaps expecting words of “I am so sorry” or “don’t worry.” Instead they are given a whole new perspective-remember. Not a word of lecture, but an invitation to step out of the tomb.

Remember what Jesus said. Buried inside you is what will allow you to respond in faith and give strength for living. Those words were not just something in the past. It’s not just a day, it is a different reality. This is the good news! Christ promised to conquer death and rise! And He has! This changes everything!

When our lives feel like cold dark places, or we feel trapped and wish someone would roll away the stone and free us, or we’ re afraid, or perplexed, or grieving, we look for something more than a memory or a cliché. We want something that changes everything. But just like those first believers we will need each other to see it. And to remember. That is the reason I handed out bells today. To ring when we hear “alleluia” because sometimes we need help to remember. To see glimpses of the risen Christ in our midst and to listen for the alleluia … there it goes.

Because when we see and hear and share it helps all of us remember there really is a new reality. It strengthens the faith we’ve been given. We cannot experience that alone. We all see it differently and even gradually. Notice today in the gospel for example, the women don’t see Jesus. They saw an empty tomb and heard an invitation into more. They left with words and a growing faith. Continuing to grow as together they walked, and saw and heard, remembering. Little by little they came to a new understanding. It dawned upon them as they remembered and then began to grasp that Christ is risen and a whole new possibility is before them! And no matter who they’ve been, Christ is risen and there is nothing that stops that reality.

We know our world’s reality happens every day. To rise above it we need our faith every day as well. Otherwise while Christ is risen and that changes everything, it is possible for us to miss out on the joy and the promise and never really leave all that other stuff behind. So remember. Step out of the tomb and be changed!

We are all here for a lot of reasons. But today I want to give an invitation-If coming here feels like paying a visit to the cemetery; if this is only a place that reminds you of history; If this is a just a day of social obligations or tradition, or just a moment that is the prelude to dinner and candy: I invite you- to step out of that tomb and remember Jesus’ words.

Because if we leave here without a sense of the living, our faith will wither as fast as these lilies. I doubt that’s what we came looking for. I know it is not what God desires. God wants to Easter us-change us. Bring new life. Restore us. Show us what real love looks like. Give us what we need for the roads we travel every day not just one hour this day. The real reason to be here and keep journeying together is …..we believe that the empty tomb reveals that the cross changes everything. That Christ victorious for us and with us is powerful and God’s love is real. But we need to keep coming, seeing, listening and sharing. Isn’t it there are so many here today?

Don’t put Jesus away with the plastic eggs until next year. Come again next week and share as we remember together the power of what Christ has begun. Take the journey with us as we leave the tomb behind, listen for alleluia, and celebrate the risen Christ.

It’s not a lecture. It’s an invitation to remember and believe.

Because everything really has changed. Alleluia!!