Reflection for Easter Sunday – April 16, 2017

Readings: Acts 10:34A, 37-43; 1 Corinthians 5:6B-8 (or Colossians 3:1-4); John 20: 1-9
Preacher: Deni Mack

The car may have been speeding. Theo was a passenger on the way to school on his 17th b’day when the crash threw Theo from the car. That was about twenty years ago on Wednesday of Holy Week. Theo never woke and was pronounced dead on Good Friday. When Theo died, grief was overwhelming. For his faith community, our collective pain for Theo and his beloved family was widely shared and deeply felt.

Theo’s family made some life-giving decisions when the beautiful care Theo received could not bring him back. The medical team assured the family that as many as thirty different recipients had a chance at life from Theo’s organ donor transplants. 30 chances for life! We had no idea so much from death could live. I am so touched by their generous gifts.

Theo means God in Greek. God lives!

4 yrs. ago our 24 year old grandson died from a skiing accident. He did not know how injured he was when he told his uncle, “A family loomed right in front of me so I swerved into the mountain and really blasted my shoulder.” We came together keeping vigil. When his parents said he was an organ donor our sigh seemed to embrace all the air in the world; we gasped with hope that some may live; we sighed in gratitude that maybe there is some meaning in this tragedy. I am still begging for and looking for his goodness, his kindness to live on; his sense of wonder, his joy, his energy, some of him has to live anew. We catch glimpses of his love in his sisters, his cousins, all who ever knew him.

Jesus’ resurrection gives us more than his words on the lips of people from many lands, more than his ways in the love of so many life giving acts, more than his examples of healing, praying and inviting. He lives. He lives in the faith community but when Jesus called his followers he did not say he would protect them from pain; he did not promise them an easy life. In fact, just the opposite.

When Mary Magdalen, Peter and the other disciple went to the tomb they were grief stricken. Peter looked in that empty tomb and saw the wrappings. He most likely stumbled in confusion all the way home.

Mary stayed and wept beside the tomb. And next we read what is never proclaimed on a Sunday. The Risen Jesus appeared to Mary and called her by name.

Can we just sit with that for a while? Hear his voice. Hear her name. See her spin round and recognize him. See her reach out.

There he is for each one of us. We need him. We listen for him. We look for him. We may recognize him in acts of compassion.

Jesus sent Mary to bring the good news of his resurrection to his disciples. Jesus entrusted the best news of all times to be proclaimed by a woman he’d healed.

She told the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” and she announced what Jesus sent her to say: “tell them I am ascending to my father and your father, to my God and your God.”

Faith in Jesus’ resurrection and in our own can be a stretch. Jesus’ first followers had to stretch to believe it. For me, that Jesus was raised resonates deeply as I watch my daughter and all the family grieve the death of our grandson as each day passes these 4 long years. Sure, signs of life coming out of what seems like death are all around us. Soon
after the 2017 wind storm and blizzard we see tiny hyacinths, signs of God’s amazing, creative power bringing life out of what seems to be frozen death.

Jesus’ resurrection is the core of our faith but we can be oblivious. We can miss His presence in revitalizations in our work place, miss signs of hope on a global scale, may even miss them when they are right under our nose when a cup of tea is served, a driveway is shoveled or a generator is shared.

Jesus’ suffering and death come before his resurrection. How do we promise that to desperate refugees, the children of Syria, my friend David who is dying right now? They draw us to the Risen Lord. He calls us by name and sends us to comfort one another in the promise of resurrection. God lives!

Denise Mack