April 1, 2018

2018 Easter


Easter Day - Year B

A Sermon Preached by The Rev Ian M Delinger on April 1, 2018

 

Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


Happy Easter! Did y’all get your handmade fudge Easter Eggs that Kathleen and her crew made throughout the month of March? Or at least some sort of chocolate egg?

 

  • Easter: Jesus dies, comes back from the dead – and we get chocolate eggs. It’s like turn-down service from God!
  • My favorite holiday is Easter. Today is the day we celebrate Jesus rising from the grave and coming back to Earth as a rabbit that hides colored eggs.
  • That got me thinking: We celebrate Jesus brutally dying on the cross by getting a giant bunny rabbit to hide chocolate eggs. I can’t help but think that there is a massive gap in information somewhere.

 

Enough with the Jesus-and-Chocolate Easter Jokes. I’m not good at jokes, anyway. It’s Easter, and Jesus died for our sins. Except, He didn’t actually STAY dead. So, what did He sacrifice? His weekend? Jesus gave up His weekend for our sins.


OK, I admit it. I got all of these jokes on the internet. This slightly irreverent one is my favorite. If you are overly pious…well…close your ears.


Wife: What are your plans for Easter?Husband: Same as Jesus.
Wife: What do you mean?
Husband: I will disappear on Friday and reappear on Sunday.
Wife: That’s Awesome! If you do that, I’ll also do like Mary.
Husband: What do you mean?
Wife: Show up pregnant untouched by my husband.


With Easter being on April Fool’s Day, there were plenty of Easter jokes online. There were three unfortunate aspects to this:

 

  1. Firstly, there weren’t many written by Christians, and certainly none written by theologians or clergy. I was looking for really funny, high-brow Resurrection jokes. There were none.
  2. Secondly, there were lots of instructions on how to torment your children on this April Fool’s Easter, like taking the wrapper off of the small chocolate eggs and using the foil to wrap grapes; hiding plastic eggs with nothing in them; and filling a hollow chocolate bunny with mustard.
  3. And lastly, the funniest jokes were the rudest jokes about the Christian faith. If you think the ones I used were irreverent…well…just go online and you’ll see what I mean.


One of the best was a meme – a photo of something recognizable with words that make the photo humorous. There were plenty of memes with tacky images of Jesus with YOLO in big letters.


YOLO is the acronym for

You Only Live Once.


And underneath Jesus and YOLO was “Just Kidding!” So, it’s Jesus saying, “YOLO? Just kidding!” because, you know, He is living again. I really like that one, but it’s more of a visual joke, and I didn’t order my t-shirt in time, and you have to understand the Generation-X and Millennial YOLO craze that has gone on for about the last decade in order to get it.


The YOLO concept is actually a good one for reflecting on The Resurrection. You Only Live Once is the notion that a person should live life to the fullest, enjoy every moment, have no regrets, and chase after that bucket list – the list of activities to do and places to see before a person kicks the bucket. The concept is similar to carpe diem, or “seize the day”, a phrase made popular by the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society”, in which the lead character played by Robin Williams encourages his high school students to “make your lives extraordinary.”


Consider the idea, though, that we have this life on earth that we are to called to live to the full. There is plenty of evidence in the Bible that we are to live our lives to our potential. That doesn’t mean that we need to live hedonistic lifestyles or selfish ones.


But we are here to glorify God.

The utilization of our gifts, skills

and inclinations can both be

extraordinary and glorify God.


Let’s go back to “YOLO – Just Kidding” and Easter Day being on April Fool’s. Is it The Crucifixion that is the April Fool’s; or is it the Resurrection that is the Easter Joke?

 

  • Was Jesus not really dead? Maybe the April Fool’s joke of the last 2 millennia was that Jesus was not actually dead. The miracle was that He survived The Crucifixion.
  • Or perhaps the joke was The Resurrection. There could have been a concerted effort to get the word out that Jesus had returned from the dead when He had not actually done so. It has all been a massive conspiracy. Which means, the person who appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb really was the Gardener!


What is no joke is the theology of The Resurrection and our role within it. Jesus’ Resurrection doesn’t mean that we have a second chance at the life that we were given from birth.


Resurrection is a new life in

Jesus Christ.


It transcends the physicality of the universe; it is that state in which God raises us from death in the fullness of our being, that we may live with Christ in the communion of the saints. A mouthful, I know.


Basically, it’s not about a second

chance; it’s about eternal love –

of an unfathomable nature –

because it’s not of human or

earthly origin: it’s of God.


You Only Live THIS Life Once, so make the best of it. Hedonistically? That’s up to you. But what about:

 

  • seeing the Grandkids in the Christmas Pageant,
  • seeing God’s amazing work in the Galapagos Islands,
  • writing a book,
  • learning to scuba dive,
  • climbing Half Dome,
  • volunteering at the homeless shelter,
  • getting together with friends for a 500mi bike relay,
  • seeing a show on Broadway,
  • running a marathon to raise money for charity so that others can live their lives to the full,
  • having the time to read the books you never got to read, or better yet, reading to a child,
  • or watching the sunset on the Oregon Coast with the person you love?


I know that many of you just call that ‘retirement’! All of those things on your bucket list – big and little – that cause you to thrive, and the community around you to thrive, are part of making this life extraordinary. And give thanks to God for it at every moment.


Because of The Resurrection, we have more than one life. In this life, we are to make the most of it. As we do all of that:

 

  • What we say and do should testify that Jesus is the one ordained by God,as we heard in Acts.
  • As we make extraordinary lives for ourselves, what we do and say should declare the works of the Lord, as it says in the Psalm.
  • We make extraordinary lives for ourselves knowing that the grace of God is with us,
  •  so says Paul.


This is not Prosperity Gospel; this is using what God has given us to God’s own glory.


So…that meme of “YOLO – Just Kidding” is not necessarily theologically-inaccurate for Easter. This cheeky expression of The Resurrection is a reminder that there is more to life than what we have here on earth. Accomplish all that God has set for you, and make your lives extraordinary. And know that because of The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have Eternal Life in Him, and once all that extraordinary stuff has worn you out, death is not the end.


Alleluia! He is risen!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

© 2018 St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
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