Sermon for Easter Day - April 1 2018

Sermon for Easter Day, Year B
April 1, 2018
The Rev. Evelyn Wheeler, Rector

Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!  (He is risen indeed, Alleluia!)

No foolin’.  That which God intended has been accomplished.  During the last week, we have covered the whole territory from Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, on the back of a colt, through the last supper, when he washed the feet of his disciples, through the dreadful waiting in prayer in Gethsemane, the trial, the mocking, the flogging, the crucifixion, the death, and the burial.  Finally the morning of the first day of the week begins to dawn, and the women come to the tomb to, at last, say their final farewells as they clean and wrap Jesus’ body for burial.

We all know what happened next.  He’s not in the tomb.  Mary thinks he’s the gardener. It’s all too, too much to take in.  And the question remains, what happens next?  How will the other disciples receive this news?  What will they do?  What will Jesus do?

More to the point, my friends, what will we do?

I’ve been speaking about the idea that how we read and interpret the scriptures matter – a lot.  We know that we are quite capable of reading them in such a way that marginalizes, enslaves, and condemns others.

But if we accept this story as serious and not as some kind of April Fool’s Day joke or trick, which early detractors – and even some more recent ones – like to do – then we have to get serious about the message that Jesus brings.

And what message is that? 

That God loves the world enough to do the things we’ve been reading about – to become human, to teach and heal and counsel – to submit to human law and a human death, to let go of all power and authority, to become humble and accepting of what life – and humanity - throws at him, and through doing these things, making it possible for us to have a place in God’s kingdom, not only in heaven, but right here, right now, on earth.

God’s humility is all. 

God does all this out of love, for love, in love, and to love.

We are beloved of God. 

It is the acceptance of this remarkable truth that gives us the courage, strength, and inclination, indeed the need, to love God in return, to love ourselves, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

This kind of love does not condemn, does not exclude, does not brag, does not take pride in being “better” than another.  This kind of love is gracious, giving, generous, abundant, and it is joyful, patient, kind, gentle, faithful, and peaceful – these being the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Where this kind of love is, there is God in it and in us.

Starting this week, and running until May 12, we who live or work or worship in this community of Jefferson County are being challenged to live kindly first of all.  Each day, we are invited to find and perform some act of kindness – not for reward, not to gain brownie points, not to feel good about ourselves, but for the purpose of helping – even loving – our neighbors.

This isn’t about occasional, random, acts of kindness, but acts that are “intentional, planned, and on-purpose.”  We are invited to think about the people we live with, work with, come into contact with and to ask ourselves, what would brighten a day for one or more of them?  Flowers for a hard-working secretary?  A thank you card for someone who did something you value – even if it was last year, or twenty years ago, something you still remember even today?  If you borrow a friend’s car, fill it up.  If you see someone struggling with three children and a full grocery cart at the store, ask if you can help, and offer to let them go ahead of you in line. 

And it’s more than acts – it’s also attitudes.  Let go the impatience at a slow driver, the anger when someone cuts you off on the freeway.  Will you really be that much later if you relax a bit?

Kindness matters.

It would be simplifying the gospel message to say that kindness is everything, but it’s a terrific place to start.  And it’s a terrific way to read the scriptures – looking for kindness in all the unlikely places.  How might the Ten Commandments be seen as kind?  How might the prophets who are calling out the bad rulers be seen as kind?  How might the denial by Peter be seen as kind?

I know, some of those might be a stretch – but aren’t we supposed to grow and learn and increase our understanding of those things we value most highly?

Go for broke – be kind today, be kind tomorrow: be kind to the person you know and the one you don’t; be kind to those you don’t like and those you do. 

Kindness has a habit of spreading like wildfire. 

Be kind.

For the sake of the love that God bears for us, be kind.  For the sake of the death that Jesus died for us, be kind.  For the sake of the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us, be kind.

And may you be blessed by kindness in return.


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