Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day

On this day the Lord has acted! On the first day of the week God began creation, transforming darkness into light. On this, the “eighth day” of the week, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. We celebrate this new creation in the waters of baptism and in the feast of victory. With great joy we celebrate this day of days, even as we begin the great fifty days of Easter. Filled with hope, we go forth to share the news that Christ is risen!

Prayer of the Day
God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Readings and Psalm
Acts 10:34-43  God raised Jesus on the third day
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Colossians 3:1-4  Raised with Christ to seek the higher things
Matthew 28:1-10  Proclaim the resurrection


Our Rolling Stones, God’s Cornerstone

Alleluia, Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

We are here today because of a rolling stone.  No, not Keith or Mick.  And I’m not speaking of your papa or mine.  (For those of you who might be dusting off the memory of that Temptations classic song.)  No, the rolling stone that brings us together is the stone that was rolled by the angel, rolled in an earthquake, rolled from the grave of Jesus the Christ.  The stone rolled, victory was declared, death was defeated, and life restored.  And whether that stone-rolling earthquake was measured by a Richter scale or by the life-changed hearts of his followers whose witness sent reverberations around the globe telling a story that has changed the world, all I know is that we are here today because of that rolling stone and the witness of its rolling, and so our rolling-stone-inspired shout is

Alleluia, Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

But before we get too excited, let’s take a step back from this angel rolled stone and take an honest look at what stones do in our hands.  Thinking of them at their worst, another classic comes to mind – Shirley Jackson’s shocking short story The Lottery.  Those opening images of the young boys collecting stones that will be used to kill the one selected.  And there’s that story of the first murder in which we find a stone in Cain’s hand coming down on Abel’s head.  Sure we’ve come a long way in developing our killing machines – on battlefields and in prisons, in homes and back alleys – but it started with a stone.

And in today’s world do I even have to draw attention to the wall-building potential of stones.  Walls to keep out and keep in.  To separate and denigrate.

Stones in our hands become extensions of our fear.  We deceive ourselves by thinking if we just collect enough stones, big enough stones, more stones than the other.  In the midst of our stone collecting, our stone hurling, our stone clutching, hear the voice of the risen one:  Do not be afraid.  Blessed with the peace of our new life in the risen Christ, let’s drop the stones from our hands so that we can embrace life with a shout of:

Alleluia, Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

Our stones weigh us down.  Whether we have collected them through resentments and anger, or through guilt and shame.  Whether we have gathered them in our loneliness or selfishness, in our greed or our anxiety over the myth of scarcity.  Stones in our pockets become extensions of our despair.  Journeying becomes so difficult.  Accepting an adventure becomes unthinkable.  Building relationships is greatly hindered.  Put enough stones in your pockets and, when you go into the water, swimming will be impossible and sinking will be the result.

And anyone who has carried those stones that doctors concern themselves with, like ones in the kidneys; they can tell us about the pain of carrying the stones and the great relief when they are finally released.

Are you finding that your pockets are filled with more stones that you can carry?  Than you want to carry?  Hear the voice of the risen one:  Do not be afraid.  Blessed with the mercy and grace of our new life in the risen Christ, let’s empty our pockets of weighty stones so that we can say yes to freedom with a shout of:

Alleluia, Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

Yes, we can rejoice, for God rolls stones away.  God takes stones out of our frightened hands and invites us to love one another as God loves us.  God empties our stone-filled pockets in that pool – the baptismal font – so that once our old self is drowned, our new creation might rise up out of the water, and thus freed and renewed, we can journey with Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit that fills our hearts, minds, and spirits, we can build communities that nurture and support.

This is the invitation that the author of Colossians is extending when we are called to set our minds on things above.  It’s not – think about how great life will be in heaven.  If a heaven-guarantee is merely what this day is all about, then Christ’s resurrection is greatly lacking in power for our lives today.  Sure, death is conquered, and we are assured that not even in death will we be separated from the presence and love of God.  But the rolling stone and the “fear not” also speaks to us today, for our life here and now.  Even now we are to set our minds on the things that are above.  As in set our minds on the priorities that God sets for us.  The priorities expressed in the life and teachings that Jesus the Christ came proclaiming.  Bringing the kingdom and changing the world.  Just as he taught us to pray – God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  The priorities that the Holy Spirit empowers us to discern and live into with the new life that is ours, in this time, in this place.  This is why we are able to “Fear not.”  For blessed with the hope that is ours in our new life in the risen Christ, we are free to live to the fullness of the present, and so we shout:

Alleluia, Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.

The tomb stone has been rolled away.  The stones with which we attack have been turned to dust.  The stones in our pockets have been rendered weightless.  So let’s embrace the one stone that matters, that is strong, that is right.

Christ the cornerstone is the one that is rock solid.  On him we are wise to build.  In him we rest safe and secure (now and forever).  With him who is the victorious and risen one we can build the kingdom of God that knows no end, the kingdom that seeks to bring justice to all, freedom to all, compassion to all, mercy to all, a place for all, life for all.

Be not afraid, when you feel the earth quaking and see the stones rolling.  God is acting.  Jesus is rising.  The Holy Spirit is filling us with life.  And, freed from our stones, we have peace, mercy, grace, hope, we have new life.  In this, we are rock solid.

Alleluia, Christ is risen.  The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

The Rev. Mark Erson,

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