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When all else falls/fails, Resurrection anyway – always.


The Feast of the Resurrection.
Easter, Common Lectionary Year C

Luke 24:1-12, (-35)

©2019 Rev. Dr. Elisabeth R. Jones

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Because, if you trust the resurrection, in the end, the empty tomb preaches itself. (Karoline Lewis)
Car, si tu fais confiance à la Résurrection, à la fin, la tombe vide se fait sa propre prédication.

“When the Sabbath was over,
but while it was still very, very early…” (Luke 24:1)
mais très, très tôt le matin…

That’s where Luke starts his Easter story,
but I want to start it a little earlier,
in the gap Luke leaves in his Gospel
between chapters 23 and 24,
where he says all rested because of the Sabbath.
I’m not so sure all did.
Have you ever had trouble sleeping?
Vous avez déjà eu du mal à dormir?
Have you in your attempts to capture that elusive rest,
counted your heartbeat in the dark?
Or tried to slow your breathing, and your racing brain?
Locked your wired sinews into an vain effigy of elusive repose,
longing for the blankness of sleep?
Then you know how long the hours, no the minutes, between dark and light are.
Les minutes sont longues entre la nuit et la lumière du matin.
Aching, dragging, fear-riddled ticks and tocks of timed eternity!
Worry, illness, despair, anxiety
oh and grief does that to you, robs you of your sleep.

I dare say it did that to Mary of Magdala,
that Sabbath night.
She didn’t sleep, she didn’t rest!
Nor did her soul sisters, her namesake Mary, or Joanna,
or the other women who, Luke says,
had followed Jesus every step of the way
from Galilee to Golgotha.

Before the colour returned to the dawning morning,
Elles étaient déjà debout avant l’aube
they were already up, dressed,
their bags of embalming spices packed,
their grief now channeled to do the only thing
left to the living in the face of death;
to cradle it, smooth it, touch it tenderly, and shroud it in tears,
and love, and say goodbye,
waiting for an unknown tomorrow
where past and deathly present might possibly one day make some sense.

That’s where Easter begins, isn’t it?
When you think about it?
Not with the folded linen and the dazzling heralds
with their trumpet hallelujahs,
not with our lilies and Easter Crosses,
not with our calendrical appointment with joy
or its cheap imitation, jollity.

Pâcques, la Resurrection, démarre, en fait,
en plein milieu de la mort
Easter, Resurrection
then, and now
begins in the midst of death,
with endings, loss,
with failure, fracture,
grief, and brokenness,
with illnesses and enmities,
with depressingly certain uncertainties,
with the falling of empires, of systems,
and the failing of confidence, and innocence,
and the with the failing of love to conquer hate,
with life and love’s losses that tear the veil of our normalcy in two,
and leave us sleepless, hopeless on the edge of darkness.

Despite the untidy inconsistencies
among the four Biblical Gospels
concerning the details of Easter morning,
on this one point they are agreed:

It – Resurrection – begins in darkness,

in Sabbath night, the empty night,
before we are awake,
before we are aware,
before we are ready.
la Résurrection démarre dans la pénombre
avant qu’on ne soit reveille
avant qu’on ne soit conscient.
avant qu’on ne soit prêt.

The sleep deprived women saw a rolled stone.
We who know the end of the story see that as a good sign,
but wait, we’re not ready….
but imagine those women, in that moment….
or try it this way, imagine your own horror
and fearful imaginings if you were to see your front door open
when you return from your day’s work…. not a good sign!
Robbed? Defiled? Desecrated?
Resurrected is not an option,
not part of our, nor their imagination, not yet.

So then, what courage did it take?
What love did it take these women
Quel courage, quel amour a-t-il fallu à ces femmes pour s’avancer?
to cross that yawning threshold,

determined to witness, to stand with, or weep with
whatever happened beyond that rolled stone?

Walter Brueggemann writing on this text,
stirs our death-bound imagination with this poetic prayer
of the women looking beyond the glittering creatures,
and beyond the linen cloth,
as more than the sun dawns, and they “remember”
what Jesus had taught them, year in and out…
laid out before them in utter emptiness;
“O death … no sting!
O grave … no victory!
O silence … new song!
O dread… new dance!
O tribulation… overcome!” [1]

It is that gap – that three dot silent, empty gap
between predictable reality and possibility,
entre la réalité prévisible et la possibilité
between human terror and wonder,
entre la terreur humaine et l’émerveillement
between despair and hope,
entre le désespoir et l’espoir
between knowledge and transformation,
entre la connaissance et la transformation
between every death and every resurrection,
entre chaque mort et chaque résurrection
that Luke so beautifully and patiently portrays
in his Gospel, spanning not a mere moment,
but a whole day!

A whole day (or for some of us, the better part of a lifetime),
where Resurrection
-life defeating death and love defeating hate and fear’s brutalities-
is barely noticed, accepted or believed,
Il peut nous prendre toute une vie pour le voir, pour l’accepter, pour le croire
not until the blessed stranger reaches out through the evening shadows
one more time, to take and bless and break ordinary, daily bread.

Because let’s face it,
if Resurrection happens before we are awake, aware or ready,
it’s is going to take us time to notice,
accept, much less proclaim,
and eventually become ourselves God’s signs of Resurrection.
And that is the point.

Today is not merely an anniversary or commemoration of the raising of Jesus from death’s tomb, once long ago.
Ce n’est pas une commémoration de la Résurrection de Jésus il y a toutes ces années—c’est le jour quand enfin, on comprend que la Résurrection, c’est le rêve de Dieu pour tous, partout et tout le temps.
Today is about us getting it.
Us edging towards a transformed awareness
that Resurrection is actually God’s Dream
for everything, everywhere, all the time!

You see, once we see Resurrection in this Gospel,
in this empty tomb, in this bread, on this table,
we’ll see Resurrection woven into the fabric of creation
when the waters of a flooding river eventually recede, revealing greening grass,
when tulip spears cut through winter’s drear residue, and dandelions explode in a riot of hallelujahs to feed the bees.

Nous vivrons la Résurrection
We’ll live Resurrection when
humanity finally decides to cherish creation and partner with creation’s resilience to restore planetary health and balance…
We’ll live Resurrection when a town, a state, a nation says “not here, not again” to random gun violence.
We’ll live Resurrection when we reclaim the spaces of public discourse and governance with honesty, truth, good news, and the pursuit of the common good.

We’ll celebrate Resurrection when a grieving family laughs out loud as a loved one is remembered in all their glorious ordinariness,
and when broken souls and battered minds edge back towards healing wholeness.
and when fractured relationships are reconciled.
We’ll claim God’s Resurrection when we link our hands in unity and inclusion
to shelter those hurt by xenophobia or homophobia.

Nous deviendrons la Résurrection de Dieu quand tout est tombé, quand, par nos vies et par nos mots, nous marcherons et vivrons et servirons et représenterons ce pour quoi Jésus a vécu et ce pour quoi Jésus est mort.
We will ourselves become God’s Resurrection when all else falls and fails, when
by our lives and by our words, we will walk and live and serve and stand for what Jesus lived and died for.

Encore aujourd’hui, le Christ est bel et bien ressuscité, en toi et en moi.
Today again, Christ is risen, indeed, in you and me.
Amen.

[1] Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People”

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