Easter Sunday A April 24, 2011
The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes
Happy Easter everyone!
Today’s Gospel from St. John’s concentrates on Mary Magdalene. She loved Jesus so much, was utterly downcast and grief stricken, crying her eyes out as she stumbled into the tomb and found it empty. She had seen Jesus die, really die, cruelly, on the cross. She came to be close to him just as some of us have wanted a last look at a loved one in the funeral home. Even that is taken from her. She turns and senses someone close, probably a gardener up early. “Where have they put him?” She blurts out. She is sure that the religious leaders have removed him so that his tomb won’t become a site of pilgrimage. It is only when the gardener says her name, “Mary,” that she knows it is the Lord. When someone who loves you speaks your name, there is something special, something wonderful about the way it sounds. Jesus tells Mary not to cling to him, but rather to go and tell his followers that he is alive.
In the Gospel, there’s something important for us to grasp about Easter. Jesus warns Mary not to hang on to him but to tell the good news. So much of our religion is about us. We want Jesus to live in order that he may give us what we want, or keep us safe, or heal us, in this life. Even if we believe in an after life, our belief is vague. We are rather like the people in Jesus’ day who go through the actions of religion with some hope of being rewarded now.
Jesus tells Mary to go “Tell” that something extraordinary has happened. Jesus is risen. Jesus tells Mary that he has not completed the action yet. The resurrection is not primarily about eternal life. The Ascension completes that part of the whole. The Resurrection is about new life, a new world, a new country. This new country isn’t geographical. It is made up of the dead, the living and those who are not yet born, who in their lives “Tell” that Jesus lives.
The resurrection is about God’s Love to humanity. It is about our redemption from sin, from death to eternal life. It is about victory and about glory being human. It is about hope, hope when we are at the end of our rope, hope when we exhausted our bag of tricks.
Our victory is this, that we are not hated or abandoned. Our faith is not an argument, it is a love affair. It introduces us in a whole new way of being human. The resurrection changed everything. It changed the lives and doubts of the disciples. It changed our lives and gave us hope. Easter is about us. About who we really are in God, it is about the transformation of our being. Easter is not about finding the eggs or where they have hidden the chocolates. Easter is beyond those symbols, it is about our transformation into the Being of Christ. It is about our turning point of sadness into joy, pain into happiness, grief into hope, hate into love, selfishness into humility in doing God’s will. Easter wipes away our burden of tears, of fears, our disappointments and failures. All of those have been raised up in the resurrection of Christ. We’ve got to retract our boat right to where we are supposed to be bound. Somehow we’ve lost our way to the busy-ness of life, forgetting the real purpose of our being, that is; to Love God, Love our neighbor, love our selves and follow Christ’s way. For in Him, we find victory.
Resurrection is our story to tell. When The Episcopal Diocese of California through the leadership of Bishop Karl Block started the plans for the foundation of St. Martin at this top of the hill of Daly City in July 21, 1955. The Rev. Henry A. Dick was chosen vicar and the church was a start to an entire community that was looking for a better life as well as housing after world war II. St. Martin became the beacon of hope in this community, welcoming others in setting a great example of her patron saint Martin who spread his cloak to give care to the needy and wounded hearts.
St. Martin continued to resurrect when in May 1993, through the leadership of Bishop William Swing, members of St. Martin’s welcome the congregation of St. Barnabas of San Francisco with the leadership of The Rev. Vito Villalon. This union gave birth to what is now “Holy Child and St. Martin Episcopal Church” It’s formation was an affirmation and recognition of the growing Filipino American community in Daly City and in the greater bay area.
Today, we continue to emerge as the product of the resurrection as we are transformed to a more diverse multi ethnic community in this God’s Vineyard. We become a witness to the knocking on our doors of families in different backgrounds who were seeking for love and compassion and we wholeheartedly welcome them and opened the doors just as St. Martin congregation did to St. Barnabas members. God has planted and watered us to grow and now that we continue to bear fruit, it is our calling to spread those seeds of love and hope by uplifting them up back to God. We all have tasks to do as witnesses of the resurrection story of Christ in this community. We must be blessed to “Tell” others of this wonderful acts of the most loving God.
Like Mary whom Jesus asked to “Go tell the others”, we too need to tell our story among others from this forth forward, to our children and our children’s children. From this place to every community, that God continues to be alive here in our midst. That if God indeed is with us, no one can be against us. Let us continue to promote respect in each other, aware of the rich culture in our midst and ever walking in the ways of Christ. Let us continue to uphold the spirit of compassion to the less fortunate, to the needy, the hungry, those who seek God’s love.
So I pray that we leave this morning with delight, proud to be human, blessed to live, capable of what we can embrace in action, in our capacity to enjoy one another.
know that God is here with us this Easter day and everyday.
(May we listen to Joshua Oakes sing the song “Where is love”) from the movie Oliver.