Easter, 2012

Today is Easter Monday, 2012.


It is the day after the most important celebration on the Christian calendar – EASTER!


The following text is a posting of much of yesterday’s sermon at Newtonbrook United Church in Willowdale, Ontario. In a few days, the audio version of the sermon will be available on the congregation’s website at: http://www.newtonbrookunitedchurch.ca/nuc-worship/sermon/

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“So they went out and fled the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”[1]

This is the original ending to the Gospel According to Mark.

“Terror and amazement had seized them” – is that how you feel on Easter morning?

The three women ran from the tomb as they had been “seized by terror and amazement”. Wouldn’t you?

What would happen if we all were to run from church on Easter Sunday morning, “seized by terror and amazement”?

Why did these women flee with those feelings in their hearts? Maybe it was because they realized that God is doing a new thing AND has kept God’s promise to re-make this world into the Kin-dom of God.

Jesus taught that the power of love is greater than any other power on earth. I recently read a statement that in the eastern traditions there is a phrase that “soft is stronger than hard”. As an example, just look at how water erodes concrete. In the same way, LOVE can overcome the hardest of hearts.

Carol Cayenne, a friend of mine, died in 1998. In an obituary story about this black, activist woman, who had lived in what we now call TCHC, the Toronto Star quoted Carol:

We may not be able to get the guns, the knives, and the drugs, which come so easily to our children, off the streets. We may not be able to stop the glorification of violence on television but, as ordinary men, women and children, we have the power to care. And it is the power to care, once released, that can work miracles[2].

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “A Time to Break Silence” speech at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967; one year later, on this date in 1968, he was assassinated. (Source: American Rhetoric)

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome had discovered that Jesus had spoken the truth about God’s promise to do a new thing.

EASTER means that God is doing a new thing.


Resurrection is a new thing! To encounter it for the first time is

to be seized by terror and amazement”.

Theologian Jurgen Moltman:

“Christianity is eschatology, is hope, forward looking and forward moving.”

To Moltman the resurrection of Jesus shows the world, “the beginning of a fundamental change in the conditions of possible experience.”[3]

Harold Wells:

“faith” in the risen Jesus means making the resurrection the central plank of one’s worldview, and involves the commitment of one’s whole life.[4]

No wonder the church has been running on empty for 2000 years! We have evidence that God is creating a new heaven and a new earth, and we are a part of that new creation.

We are people who know, deep in our hearts, that God is doing a new thing! We know that the power of love can change the world. We are people who are willing to go into the world to do a new thing as followers of Jesus!

In a world of abundance, where the powers of Empire preach scarcity and deficit reduction, we are people who tell others that God shows us that it is the size of the heart that matters.

In a world that propagandizes that you can never have enough, Jesus shows us that all can be fed with five loaves and two fish.[5]

In a world guided by the false value of selfish individualism, Christian communities have been demonstrating for 2000 years that sharing is more powerful than hoarding.

In a world that celebrates the rich and powerful, no matter what their abilities may be, God shows us that it is “the least of these”, like Mary Magdalene, who explore the empty tomb, and bring the message of resurrection and NEW LIFE to future generations.

We are people of hope for a better world, who remember that real hope is guided by the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“No one who hopes in me ever regrets it.[6]

There is an eco-theologian by the name of Wendell Berry. He has published a poem that is called:

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”

In this poem, the farmer warns against the love of the quick profit and a life that makes a person afraid to know your neighbours, and afraid to die. Instead, the mad farmer calls the reader to do something every day that doesn’t compute. It may be something that causes people to run away in terror and amazement. What is that radical act:

Love God; love God’s world, and finally “practice resurrection

As Jesus said;

‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was homeless and you gave me a room,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.[7]

May we go into God’s world to “practice resurrection”,

may we go to meet the Risen Christ,

and may we go with the assurance of God’s everlasting and gentle love.

Hymn # 183 – We Meet You O Christ

[1] Mark 16, 8

[2] The Toronto Star, Thursday, April 16, 1998, page B5

[3] [3] Harold Wells, The Resurrection of Jesus According to “Progressive Christianity”, Touchstone, January 2012, page 43

[4] Harold Wells, The Resurrection of Jesus According to “Progressive Christianity”, Touchstone, January 2012, page 41

[5] See Mark 6: 30 – 44

[6] Isaiah 49: 23

[7] Matthew 25: 34 – 36 (The Message)

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