One Easter Sunday morning, a Sunday School teacher gave a kindergarten girl an Easter egg. The little girl opened her bright, pastel-colored egg to find a slip of paper. Being that she just started reading, the little girl struggled to read her newly found message. She read, “He is . . . a raisin?” It doesn’t make much sense for Jesus on the third day to have become a raisin. Becoming a raisin is illogical; however proclaiming that he is risen, is simply incomprehensible. The Easter proclamation that Christ is Risen stands in the tension between perception and reality, between form and content, between the way things are and The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Easter is where expectation meets the incomprehensible. The women came to the tomb expecting the stillness and quiet of death, but in reality the earth shook, the stone rolled, and the heavenly spoke—“He is not here. He has been raised!” The soldiers were expecting something to happen as well. They knew that Jesus said he would be raised on the third day, so they rolled a stone in place and left guards. I’ve heard Easter sermons that said the guards were there to keep the disciples from stealing the body and claiming that Jesus was raised. I think that Rome knew well that Jesus would be raised, and if they could just keep the door sealed no one would know and they could keep their earthly power. When we try to hinder God all we end up doing is guarding nothingness. The guards that Sunday morning were guarding an empty tomb. Listen to the words of the angel, “He has been raised.” That what sin is, it’s the guarding of nothingness. It’s pointless and never fruitful. Roll the stone away, leave death behind, and go live. Easter is where expectation meets the incomprehensible.
When expectation meets the incomprehensible it leaves us with fear and great joy. Resurrection has changed everything. So what does that mean? What does that mean for me—for us—for the church? Easter means to the individual that death is no longer the end of your story. How much of my life is based on the assumption that death is the end. When death is the end then I hang on to my wealth and I try to have the biggest house and the fastest car. When death is the end I can bury my secrets and faults and failures away so that when I die, they too will die. Death is not the end of the story, which means there is redemption. Death is not the end of the story, which means there is forgiveness. Death is not the end of the story, which means your value is not based upon what someone pays you. You are more than the stuff we fill our life with. Easter means that we don’t have to wait until we are dead to experience the Kingdom of God. Easter is where expectation meets the incomprehensible, which leaves us with fear and great joy. You see, I can live with reckless abandon, but what happens when my neighbor starts living with reckless abandon?
What does Easter mean for us? How do we share the Easter experience? I am happy to announce that The Well is one of three churches across the state to have been selected by The United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana for a study on strategic planning. We will be putting together a strategic planning team to pray, think, discuss, discern, study, and pray some more about where God is calling us and to what ministry God is preparing for us. We will be working with Dr. Debbie Davis who teaches strategic planning at LSU. The working title of the project is “Sharing God’s Vision 20/20.” What will the church look like in six years? Will we have a new center for children’s ministry that families will drive for miles to participate in? We sent a team to Honduras, but where else is God calling us? In six years maybe the church has changed the face of Ponchatoula and Hammond because of radical and compassionate mission. Maybe there will be no homeless in six years. Maybe every child six years from now will graduate high school. Maybe six years from now your grandchildren will be going on their first mission trip? Maybe in 20/20 you might say, “After spending time in the prayer path I’ve decided to go into ministry.” Maybe six years from now someone says, “I’d like to get married in the new sanctuary.” Jesus is alive. Christ is Risen! All things are possible! It might be difficult to see. Funny thing about Resurrection is that no one saw it happen. Easter is not so much about witnessing the Resurrection, but witnessing to the Resurrection. The mission and ministry and worship and fellowship is all pointing to what Resurrection looks like. It looks like life. It looks like all being welcome. It looks like all things being possible.
Easter is where expectation meets the incomprehensible, which leaves us with fear and great joy. Cha. The women ran from the tomb in fear and great joy. Jesus just walked out of the tomb, what does that mean? It changes everything, and even good change brings with it some fear and trepidation. Jesus knows us so well. We he saw the women he said to them, “Do not be afraid.” Easter is where expectation meets the incomprehensible, leaving us with fear and great joy. And when we meet the Risen Lord, he takes away our fear leaving us only with Joy. Easter is where expectation meets the incomprehensible, leaving us with fear and great joy, which is why the Risen Lord says, “Do not be afraid,” so that all which remains is great joy. Today may you be filled with great joy. Christ is Risen. Christ is Risen indeed. Amen.