Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
I was catching up with my old friend Mary Ellen not long ago. She’s one of those friends, you know the kind - who know you so well and who you know so well that no matter how much time passes it’s like you’re picking up right where you left off.
In the midst of talking about life, family, and work, my friend said something about getting our families together and barbecuing and suddenly I was laughing. “What is it?” my friend asked? “Oh,” I replied, “I’m just laughing because, you know, I’m raising kids full-time, working full-time as a pastor, volunteering at my kid’s schools and otherwise trying to be a decently participating local and global citizen, but do you know that when I realized that some nuts and bolts had fallen out of my barbecue last year and that it was literally sinking into the ground, it has sat unfixed and unused ever since?”
Then as we both laughed my friend Mary Ellen exclaimed, “oh my gosh, that’s my vacuum! My vacuum broke months ago, and I’ve been meaning to fix it, but instead I just keeping getting down on my hands and knees and picking up the big stuff I can see off the carpet!” And I said, “oh yeah, because it’s a lot easier to clean your carpet on your hands and knees rather than fixing the vacuum!” And we laughed some more.
Yep. No matter how on top or not on top of things we feel like we are in our lives, there’s always something beyond the edge of our capacity to handle, an edge beyond which we cannot quite move ourselves.
Which makes me think about the disciples in Luke’s version of the Resurrection story, and how they do not believe the women who have been to the tomb about seeing angels and Jesus being resurrected.
Now the disciples had traveled alongside Jesus on his earthly journey. They’d seen him heal the sick, make the blind to see, and raise the dead. They‘d even heard Jesus say, when they were in Galilee, that his death would have to happen so that he could rise to new life after three days and thereby fulfill God’s salvation purposes of bringing healing and forgiveness to all. And now the three days have passed and just as at Jesus’ birth, here at Jesus’ death angels have appeared to tell of the good news, but the disciples don’t believe it.
The disciples have been nodding their heads and mostly enthusiastically participating in God‘s work with Christ all the way up until now. Until the cross and the earthly death.
But now, they just can’t muster what’s needed to fix the barbecue and the vacuum.
And really, that’s ok. I don’t think any of us can muster what’s needed to move from nodding our heads politely, even enthusiastically, at all of what we hear about Jesus and God’s miracles through Jesus to actually believing that Jesus as God‘s Son; Jesus as both fully human and God; Jesus has died and is risen. It’s beyond our capacity for belief.
Which is why Jesus dies for us, not only to forgive our sins, but to give us the gift of faith that makes it possible to believe what God in Christ has accomplished! New life, forgiven and blessed life is possible for all.
Jesus is with us, helping us to pull off all that we can accomplish in life as parents and grandparents and friends and community members, as disciples disguised in whatever personal and professional hats we wear. And then Jesus is there to bring us across the finish line, in all the broken and untended places in our lives and world where the metaphorical barbecues and vacuums sit unfixed for weeks and months and years.
Jesus does this because Jesus, more than any earthly friend we’ll ever have, knows us in every way and loves us anyway.
So we look at the glorious flowers and candles and the altar and pulpit re-vested - we return to the sanctuary from outside in the twilight and enter a blaze of light that affirms something has changed, something is different.
It took a flock of angels to get this all ready, so that our hearts might lift as our voices sing that Jesus is not dead, but alive. Christ is risen. And now, maybe even the broken barbecues and vacuums of the world will have a chance.
For Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!