Easter – Joy Comes with the Dawn

“Christ is Risen” – That’s good news people. Christ has risen! – did you notice that when I say ‘Christ is Risen’ I did not use one single qualifier – I did not say “Christ is risen for Christians”,  […]

[…] or “Christ is Risen” for church goers, or even “Christ is Risen” for those who profess their faith in Jesus Christ.
I did not say “Christ is Risen” for Canadians or Americans or those of white skin and speak English. I did not say “Christ is Risen” for all those who walk the straight and narrow, or “Christ has Risen” for those who live virtuous lives and pay their taxes on time. Nor did I say “Christ is Risen” for students who get ‘A’s or successful people who have all the cultural goodies like a house and car and good job. I did not say that “Christ is Risen” for good people or people who are trying their best or the those who live a good life. I said “Christ is Risen” and when I say that I mean…Christ has risen for all.
Christ is risen for everyone which includes you and me and everyone in between. Christ is risen for all those who sit in church pews this morning and those still lingering in their warm beds. Christ has risen for the successful and the failures, for the lost and the found, for the good and the bad and the beautiful and the ugly – Christ is risen for Foolish and wise people, kind and mean people, law abiders and rule breakers too. Jesus Christ has risen today –– out of the darkness of the tomb, from the despair of Holy week – joy comes with the dawn and “Christ is Risen”
Joy comes with the dawn;
joy comes with the morning sun;
joy springs from the tomb
and scatters the night with her song
joy comes with the dawn

The resurrection happened. Long ago I accepted that fact that the evidence of the resurrection requires faith to understand, this central truth of what it means to be Christian. Our former moderator, David Guliano, in an Easter reflection in the Observer said: “what we call the resurrection is the defining moment, the birth of our people. It is the pinnacle of God’s self-revealing through Jesus – there is suffering there is death and there is end and always there is rising to new life.” The Easter story is not only an experience, it is event. It is a way of life. The resurrection lives into the truth that death is never the end — resurrection is. We not only look forward to a future that has been designed by God but also we have the opportunity to experience Easter moments in the midst of our everyday lives. We know that death and sorrow stand nearby — whether it be physical death, the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a dream — but resurrection also waits to be noticed at the edges of our life. We have all known the wonder of a healing, a new job, a new love, a new dream being born out of the agony of hopelessness. Making Easter a way of life means that we are unwilling to settle for death in any of its forms. We are unwilling to give up hope and belief that new life is always being offered to us by God. We are unwilling to be ground down by grief when God’s grace gives and gives and gives. This has to mean something to each one of us, then, when we face the “empty tombs” of our lives: the losses and disappointments, heartbreaks and failures, tragic deaths and prolonged illnesses, loneliness and despair. Those tombs are our “Friday” lives, and Jesus shares them with us. But Jesus also shares Sunday, and resurrection, new life and new hope, with us. It wasn’t a one-time thing, the resurrection of Jesus. It was, instead, the dawning of a new day, and new life as well. Out of the darkness of the tomb, from the despair of Holy week – joy comes with the dawn and “Christ is Risen”
Joy comes with the dawn;
joy comes with the morning sun;
joy springs from the tomb
and scatters the night with her song,
joy comes with the dawn.

A group of women, have gotten up really early in the morning, they have job to finish. Because of the Sabbath, they could not finish preparing Jesus body for burial, so they set off in darkness to finish what they started. I imagine they were a dispirited grieving group of woman suffering because of the loss of one they held so dear. When they arrived at the tomb they realize that something is not right – the stone that was supposed to be in front of the opening was rolled away – they cautiously go inside to do what they came to do, spice the body and wrap it in burial clothes. But the body is not there, and as they are sort of shocked into this first unnatural occurrence they are suddenly in the presence of a dazzling man – who tells them that Jesus has risen – the first Easter moment – which I think would take some time to sink in – and so they are reminded that Jesus had told them that this was to happen. In this new understanding they are told to go to share this incredible news with the 11 disciples –but they don’t – they tell no one – ‘they say nothing to any one, for they were afraid – Resurrection? Something has happened, something has shifted – these woman’s lives will never be the same again. I imagine that besides the fear within the woman there must also have been a sense of wonder, a little bit of awe and that burgeoning hopeful feeling when you can’t quite believe that it is true but there is this growing sense of joy in your heart. And even though the woman tell no one, the word gets out – It does not tell us in this version of the resurrection when they finally experienced the joy that came with that dawn, but we know from the rest of the story that they did – and these woman and men’s lives were forever transformed, that morning for them – dawned with new life. Out of the darkness of the tomb, from the despair of Holy week – joy comes with the dawn and “Christ is Risen”

Joy comes with the dawn;
joy comes with the morning sun;
joy springs from the tomb
and scatters the night with her song,
joy comes with the dawn.
One of my favorite books The Color Purple. The main character, the narrator who tells us her story through her letters addressed to God, is Celie, a poor black woman who has been abused all her life. But she has somebody in her life who loves her, her sister Nettie, who gets chased away by Celie’s violent husband, Albert. Albert doesn’t let Celie ever see the mail, so Celie never hears from Nettie and starts to believe that her sister is dead. But Nettie isn’t dead. She has gone to Africa as a missionary and writes to Celie many letters over the years; she never gets a reply, but she keeps writing letters to Celie anyway. Then, one day, Celie finds the packet of letter from Nettie that Albert has stashed away under the floorboards. “Dear Celie,” Nettie writes, “I know you think I am dead. But I am not. I been writing to you, too, over the years, but Albert said you’d never hear from me again and since I never heard from you all this time, I guess he was right. There is so much to tell you that I don’t know, hardly, where to begin….but if this do get through, one thing I want you to know, I love you, and I am not dead.”
I love you, and I am not dead. You may think that I am dead and that you are unloved, but I am not dead, and you are loved. Celie suffers terrible childhood abuse from her father, and further abuse through her forced marriage to a violent man, has her babies taken away from her and her sister driven from her, but God loves Celie, and her life, so full of hardship because of the hard-heartedness of others, is transformed anyway. When Celie and Nettie are both old and gray, they are finally reunited, and they fall down on the ground with joy. And these are Celie words: “Everyone, must be thinking about how old we look. “But I don’t think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.” Celie finally experienced the joy that came with that dawn, and her life was forever transformed. Out of the darkness of the tomb, from the despair of Holy week – joy comes with the dawn and “Christ is Risen”

Christ is Risen – here in Kitchener in 2015, and meets us here today in this church this morning. – It is Easter Sunday – the day of resurrection – the day that we step back and realize one more time that this is God’s world and that somehow and in someway out of the darkness of the tomb, the light has come and everything changes in a blink of an eye because this is God’s resurrection moment –and so
We all need a resurrection – we all need to know that God is in charge and that our world is going to turn, and that death is never the last word – and into the midst of our everyday life – our breathing in and breathing out – there is God.
I know that for me here in this moment I welcome this resurrection, I need to feel that God gets in and my life is transformed because….
Our family is still living in transition
and my dad has been ill and my sisters and I live far away from him
and my daughter still won’t sleep through the night
and my mom’s no longer here
My second granddaughter will soon be born
and Spring is late
I need a resurrection because … It promises that in the end life prevails
And death looses that the world turns and
Wrongs are made right and
Hope triumphs and
Life and love prevail and
Light wins out over darkness every time, every single time.
The resurrection offers a lens so that we can see things as God intended them to be
Resurrection transform tragedy and heals brokenness
Resurrection awakens me to Jesus presence in the ordinary and challenging events in life-
Resurrection is God’s resounding “yes”.
We are about to share a resurrection meal – eat from the table where we proclaims that the table belongs to God so therefore
All are welcome, the last the least especially
Everyone is invited especially the poor and the prostitute, the weak and the heavy laden, the troubled and the stricken
The bread and the cup are shared with all, young and old, rich and poor, the prisoner and the free, male and female, straight or gay, black or white, pink or green – this table belongs to God – this resurrection God – this “Christ is Risen God”.
So come one and come all come share in this feast on this day as we celebrate resurrection event! Out of the darkness of the tomb, from the despair of Holy week – joy comes with the dawn and “Christ is Risen”. Amen.

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