April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday - Year B

You'll find a video of the entire service at

https://www.facebook.com/StStephensSLO/videos/1132002213940367

 

The sermon, preached by Fr. Ian Delinger, begins about 29 minutes into the service.

 

Click here for the Service Booklet and Hymnal & Psalter for Palm Sunday through Eastertide.

 

Text of Sermon

 

2021 April4_Easter_Logo

 

A Sermon Preached by The Rev. Ian M. Delinger
Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, John 20:1-18

 

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

 

It is Easter Day! And we just heard the amazing story of Jesus conquering death so that we might live an Eternal Life in Him. Paul summarizes the story from John in one sentence:

 

Christ died for our sins, and he was buried, and he was raised on the third day, and he appeared to Cephas (aka Peter), then to the twelve.

 

He kind of left out the fact that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first. The story doesn’t have Jesus appearing to the Disciples until evening, and it’s morning when He meets Mary!

 

But it’s the full John story that both excites me and confuses me. The more I read the story, the more I realize that the Day of Resurrection was joyous – unbridled joy – but it was also chaotic, and it was unresolved. Sure, Jesus had just risen from the dead, something Mary and Peter had never before witnessed, probably never thought was possible, and didn’t really believe or understand Jesus’ previous references to this moment before His Crucifixion. So, I get that it was chaotic and unresolved. But as the reader, who already knows the story and believes the story and tries to live in the story, reading the account of The Resurrection is unsettling my Easter Breakfast and has me even more anxious about Easter Dinner. I don’t like dealing with other people’s chaos, and I don’t like situations that are left unresolved. I just want the JOY on Easter Day!

 

But Jesus never gives us what we want; He gives us what we need! We need to know that His Death and Resurrection conquered death and gave us Eternal Life. Humanity was in need of Salvation, and Jesus gave it to us. Humanity wants instant gratification, but Jesus never gives instant gratification. So, we are left with joyous chaos and lack of resolution. And in fact, even as the story unfolds from this point onward, it remains chaotic and unresolved, while still remaining joyous.

 

This past year has been chaotic with the pandemic, and as we turn a joyous corner with vaccinations, the pandemic is still very unresolved. And maybe that’s why I’m being drawn to those aspects of the account of The Resurrection. We’ve had a year of Lent, a year of fasting from and deprivation of our wants, those things that bring us joy. But when we look back on this year…that may become a year-and-a-half or even two years for some of our wants to return…when we look back, we must acknowledge that every one of us here – at least the members of St Stephen’s – have had all of our needs fulfilled. Giving God thanks for that is right up there with giving thanks for The Resurrection. We are fortunate beyond the comprehension of the millions of Californians, tens-of-millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions of people around the world for whom this past year has been a year of genuine, palpable suffering. Believing that Jesus knows their suffering is not enough. There is little we can do but pray, donate to good causes and vote better in order to relieve their suffering. But for our own good fortune, we can and must give thanks – in the old-fashioned way: As in the 1662 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer:

 

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

 

What did I say? Giving thanks for our good fortune – HUMBLE and hearty thanks – is right up there with giving thanks for God’s inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. That brings us right back to Easter Day!

 

The story feels unresolved. And it is unresolved because Jesus’ Resurrection wasn’t an ending point; it was a starting point. What we will hear over the next 7 Sundays will be the working out of the resolution of this Easter Morning. And it will be crazy!

  • Thomas sticking his finger into Jesus’ wounds.
  • The Disciples thinking that they are seeing a ghost.
  • Breakfast on the beach after a naked fishing trip. (Unfortunately we won’t hear that story until next Easter Season. But it’s not the plot of The Hangover Part 4; it’s the Bible.)

 

Working toward resolution of The Resurrection moves us toward The Ascension. Jesus goes up to Heaven to be with God the Father. But that’s still not a satisfactory resolution. Pastor Karen is preaching on Ascension Sunday, so I have no idea if she’ll attempt to bring any resolution to what’s going on. But, it’s still not a satisfactory resolution, because The Ascension is yet another beginning, not an ending. And then, Jesus makes good on His promise to send the Holy Spirit, so on the Day of Pentecost, the Church is born. And again, it’s a joyous occasion that is chaotic and unresolved! More on that in 50 days.

 

So, here we are almost 2,000 Easter Days later. Where is the resolution to the story? Where is our Eternal Life? Where is my instant gratification? The resolution of the story lives within each of you. Peter said:

 

“Jesus commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

 

You are to go forth and live the story of The Resurrection. You do that by believing and by telling others. The dampening of the chaos and bringing some resolution to the fallout of The Resurrection lives within each of you as believers.

 

Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God – one crafty deity! You come into our world, stir us up into a frenzy, offer us the one thing that no human being can ever offer us: Eternal Life. And then You tell us that to get it is simple: Believe it, Share it, Live it. It’s all a bit messy, yet manageable, then You leave it to us to sort out.

 

Jesus wouldn’t have left it to us if He didn’t think we couldn’t figure it out. The Disciples were no smarter than we are. We’ll hear that in each Sunday’s first readings from the Acts of the Apostles. And He did send us the Holy Spirit. The resolution and the end of chaos are inside each of you as believers of this story who Believe it, Share it, Live it.

 

Happy Easter! Go forth and live!

 

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

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