Easter Day Sermon April 1 I have nothing to say
Easter Day April 1, 2018
I’ve got nothing to say today, sorry. April Fools!
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
In honor of this feast day on this first day of April, first a few sentences from one of the craziest trumpeters of the faith, who knew a good joke when he heard one. I’m talking about the apostle Paul, writing to the cosmopolitan community of movers and shakers and intellectuals in the town of New Haven (I mean Corinth!)
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)
Foolishness! I’ll tell you what’s foolish! The Easter Gospel from Mark. It’s an ending that is not an ending.
The conclusion of the Gospel ends with the women, the dear women, saying nothing to anyone for they were afraid.
You have got to be kidding me! It’s a joke, right? The one in whom they had poured their allegiance, the one who brought God close, the one who roused the rabble and flipped power on its head, was not there at the place of death, was not done with promoting life, and they heard about it from the guy in the white robe (and just who the heck was that guy?) who by the way kind of interrupted their flow and who by the way did not say what angels and Jesus and others like this guy in white should have said after scaring the pants off the women, “do not be afraid,” no it ended like this…………………….
Can you imagine, Easter’s big feature being silence? When did silence ever accomplish anything?
Oh, wait, Emma Gonzalez made her way into the spotlight with silence, didn’t she? Emma Gonzalez got the attention of the world as a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and one of the organizers of the March for Our Lives in her speech in Washington, DC, by standing at the podium for six minutes and about twenty seconds, the amount of time it took for the shooter in Parkland to kill 17 of her classmates. David Corn of Mother Jones called it the loudest silence in the history of U.S. protest.
Max Picard, the Roman Catholic philosopher, writes an entire book about silence. He argues about the power of silence. Without silence, he argues, language loses its potency, and is just noise. He writes The world of language is built over and above the world of silence. Language can only enjoy security as it moves about freely in words and ideas in so far as the broad world of silence is stretched out below. And then he says this: In silence language holds its breath and fills its lungs with pure and original air.
–from The World of Silence, South Bend, Indiana (Regnery/Gateway, Inc.: © 1952), p 38.
Is that what was going on early morning, after the Sabbath was over, that the silence was its own kind of language, breath-holding and lungs filling ?
Because someone surely had to say something to someone. I mean, we are here this morning and have been shouting and singing, and I hope it’s not just noise, I hope it emerges from something deeply true about God in Christ. Our lives are caught up in a stream, a river, an ocean that carries us from the grave to a place beyond, where fears and crying are no more.
And the thing is, that we declare that this life, this new life, this resurrected life is given to us today, is something we can taste, something we can see, something we can join, because that’s what God is always about.
In the baptized community, in the patterns of our worship, in the modeling of new life that others show us, we step into Easter, navigating silence with speech, experience with testimony, full-throated hope in the morass of a death-dealing nation, world, and universe.
Will you take hold of life? Second-century theologian Irenaeus said “the glory of God is humanity fully alive.”
“In the middle of winter,” writes Elaine Pagels, “St. Francis called out to an almond tree, ‘Speak to me of God!’ and the almond tree breaks into blossom. It comes alive. There is no other way of witnessing to God but by aliveness.”
I found out early last summer that a dear parishioner had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, an insidious and wasting cancer. I was upset for her and for me, as I cherish our conversations. We care for one another. We sit at her kitchen table over coffee and gab the day away. After returning from my sabbatical, I heard the down and dirty story of her surgery, her treatment, and her continuing ordeal of this terminal illness. I asked, “how are you coping with all this? It’s a pretty terrible business, and you seem to be pretty peppy.” Her answer, “well, pastor don’t you talk about faith? Isn’t what we are about supposed to be about trust and hope?”
Well that shut me up! What did that Max Picard say? In silence language holds its breath and fills its lungs with pure and original air.
The women at the tomb in Mark’s Easter story discovered life, resurrected life, without Jesus appearing to them, and the conclusion was that it prompted silence and fear. I’m guessing that it didn’t last. I’m thinking that women like Mary Magdalene, figures like Emma Gonzalez, people like my dear parishioner, have each carried the good news of resurrection in the face of too much dying in their speaking and their living, fully living. And you, and you, and you, can breathe in this new life today, and in silence and in speech, in protest and praise, and eating and drinking. In solitude and in community, we can all find our way to a new beginning, heaven joys shared here, there, and everywhere, today.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!Tags: April Fools, Easter, Elain Pagels, Emma Gonzalez, foolishness, Irenaeus, Max Picard, resurrection, the gospel of Mark, The World of Silence