I love this day! Flowers and music and alleluias. Reunions like old home week, when we gather together with folks we don’t see as often, be it our families, friends, or perhaps the congregation here at Redeemer, New Paltz.

This is a beautiful day! A day to say, no to shout, “Alleluia!”

For though shadows huddle about the earth; though the powers and principalities of evil try to break apart all that is good and true and real, though false messages and false messengers try to lure us down paths of hatred and destruction, there is a Deeper Story, a Deeper Work of LOVE that has sprung forth from the clutches of death to bring resurrection and rebirth and re-creation for this whole aching world.

And we’re invited to the party! All of us called by name like dear, amazing Mary Magdalene who Jesus first called by name on that first Easter Day. And we’re all invited to respond like Mary, “Rabbouni.” “Teacher.”

Teach us how to love again. Teach us how to live and give and forgive again. Teach us how to work and play in Your name and how to help others in need and how - oh how especially to be gathered - to be gathered together when we find our hearts doubting or drying up or that we have been getting lost, pulled into things that do not serve and glorify God; teach us how to gather and sing and tell the stories of your love and grace throughout history and time so that we do not forget who we are and to whom we belong.

We are an Easter People! We have been called by name like Mary and we are invited to respond.

Yes, to respond! We as Easter people are not only named like Mary but we are Sent like Mary to be a part of Christ’s loving naming for others – to tell them the good news of how Christ is risen and what this means for their lives and ours and the world. We are not called to name-calling with hate or spite or scorn (like far too much of the world is doing these days); no, we are called to true naming and true sharing of the good news like Jesus there with Mary in the Garden on that very first Easter – first naming her, then sending her to tell the others of the good news. We have a task before us, if God can help us to pick it up: to name others around us with love and truth and for the building up of the best parts of who God makes them and us to be and for the building up of a world that can, if we by God’s love and with God’s help work at it, reflect more beautifully Christ’s resurrection work of mercy and grace. Christ’s artful way of taking all that which is broken and like sea glass that has been tumbled in the waves and sand, create something new and beautiful through which the light can reflect and refract. Brokenness worked over into Beauty.

Oh yes, I love this day. For on this first day of the fifty days of Easter we celebrate and rejoice for what God’s work in Christ has and is making possible - new life and new hope being born out of and in the midst of the struggles of this world. New hope amidst real life. Real life…that is full of pain and suffering for us and those around us, but life that can also be full – like a new handful of sea glass reflecting the light - life that can be full of joy and rich harvests of compassion and companionship, justice-seeking for all people and mercy. Oh, let’s not forget mercy!

Yes, today we gather and celebrate that God’s Love came down in a very special and extraordinary way - incarnate through Jesus - who lived and died and has now risen again in new life so that we, too, might have new life. So that we, too, might be pulled from brokenness and all the false and distracting messages of this world and re-rooted in the one true gospel of love and joy and forgiveness and truth and justice and mercy that lives in Christ. Because Christ lives, we, too, can know new life.

Yes, I love this day. And I love being here with all of you. And I love raising our voices together to once again declare that Christ is risen, Alleluia.

Alleluia, Christ is risen indeed!