Easter Sunday B, 2012
The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes
Happy Easter everyone!! (That was anemic) Happy Easter!!
In our Good Friday service, actor Michael Reardon perfectly delivered the following monologue, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!!!” Let us once again shout with a loud voice, but this time we shout, “Christ is Alive, the Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!!!” (Repeat) And because Christ is alive, we can face the challenges of tomorrow and that life is worth a living. Sing with me the song “Because he lives”. Maestro Lyle Richardson, take it.
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow, because he lives, all fear is gone
Because I know, He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because he lives
What a wonderful assurance, yes, a wonderful feeling to know that God has restored us to Himself through the resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. This has been the plan of God all along. Through His grace, we are saved from sin and become a partaker of God’s heavenly Kingdom.
Yes we had sad days in Holy Week. Four of our loved ones have passed to join their creators. We grieve for the death of George Denison III, Adi Lo Browne, Albert Flores and Marcelino Manzano. But thanks be to God though our Lord Jesus Christ who promised to the sinners at the cross, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Our love ones took part of that promised room where Jesus said, “Where I am, there you may be also if we trust in him.”
God has turned our mourning into dancing. “There is a time for mourning, a time for dancing” But mourning and dancing are never fully separated. Their “times” do not necessarily follow each other. In fact, their “times” may become one “time.” Mourning may turn into dancing and dancing into mourning without showing a clear point where one ends and the other starts. Often our grief allows us to choreograph our dance while our dance creates the space for our grief. We lose a beloved friend, and in the midst of our tears we discover an unknown joy. We celebrate a success, and in the midst of the party we feel deep sadness. Mourning and dancing, grief and laughter, sadness and gladness – they belong together as the sad-faced clown and the happy-faced clown, who make us both cry and laugh. Let’s trust that the beauty of our lives becomes visible where mourning and dancing touch each other.
And that is what exactly the experience Mary Magdalene felt that early morning of Easter. She had her mourning and dancing moments. She loved Jesus so much. At first, she 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. Her mourning has turned into dancing. When someone who loves you speaks your name, there is something special, something wonderful about the way it sounds. It makes you feel dancing. Jesus tells Mary not to cling to him, but rather to go and tell his followers that he is alive. Jesus tells us also not to cling with sadness but rather go and tell others the joy that God the Father had done.
Easter is about God’s Love to humanity. It is about our redemption from sin, from death to eternal life. Easter is about victory and about glory being human. Easter is about hope, hope where we are 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 us 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, 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. Just look around you, what do you see? I see wonderful and loving people surrounding and filling this Church with Joy. I see a new sign of miracle when a portion of the Sto. Nino Stained Glass frame is up and in place. How do you feel? I feel so blessed with your presence and it gets me up to my feet to go and visit those who are not with us today due to physical and other reasons. When someone new comes in, how do you transcend the light that is within you to shine to that new person so that he or she may also light others? Holy Child and St. Martin is the beacon of hope in this community, welcoming others with compassion.
We as a community of faith 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. 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 lifting them up back to God. We all have tasks to do as witnesses of the resurrection story of Christ in this community.
We need to tell our story 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 need our love. And yes, let the leadership of this church grow and nurture new, young and vibrant leaders who are committed to reach out to our needs as well as the needs of the world around us.
Let me encourage all my brothers and sister to face tomorrow with the great hope in Jesus Christ our Lord. May all your fears be gone and your life be renewed. For today is the beginning of a new day in your life.
Let us once more proclaim and sing “Because he lives.” This time, I ask you to sing it to the people around you:
“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow, because he lives, all fear is gone
Because I know, He holds the future. And life is worth a living, just because he lives”