April 5, 2015
Easter morning wakes us up and calls us
to look toward a horizon full of life.
It’s been said that “Every life is lived
toward a horizon, a distant vision of what lies ahead. The quality of our
action depends heavily on whether that horizon is dark with death or full of
light and life. When we envision a horizon that holds the hope of life, we are
free to act without fear, free to act in truth and love and justice today
because those very qualities seem to shape our own destiny.”[i]
What is on your horizon? What are you
The resurrection set our sights on new
life and then moves us in that direction.
Listen to Mary Magdalene, and Mary the
mother of James, and Salome on the way to the tomb.
They are coming to grieve, to finish the
burial rites. Perhaps in their shock over the recent events, they are not
speaking much. But Mark tells us they ask one question: “Who will roll away the
stone for us?”
The stone sealing the tomb announces
destruction as the horizon and death as the limit of what is possible.
The question the women ask is our
question as well.
Who will roll away the stones of violence,
Who will roll away the stones of
despair, of greed, the stone of dull lifelessness that entombs so many—leaving
us, as the hymn says, rich in things but poor in soul?
Is there anyone who can roll away the
stone for us?
Easter gives us God’s answer to that
When human possibility reaches its
limit, God does something new, something unexpected.
At that tomb the God who created gives
all creation a new horizon. So the early Christians called this day of
resurrection the “eighth day”—the beginning of a new creation after God’s
Sabbath rest. So in our time the United Church of Canada affirms: “We believe
in God, who has created and is creating.”
This new creation is one in which
resurrection answers crucifixion, life answers death.
Listen to the question of the women and you may hear
God’s life-giving answer.
The stone is rolled away and the messenger of God announces: “Do not be alarmed;
you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not
There are many responses that one can
have to that message from the empty tomb.
Perhaps those words lighten your heart
and fill you with joy. You are one of those people who go from the empty tomb
with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
Perhaps those words inspire your action
in the world. You go back to the world ready to proclaim the good news by
feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger and loving your neighbor.
Or maybe you greet those words with
doubt and skepticism, simply walking away from the empty tomb, looking
elsewhere for a word of hope.
Mark’s gospel gives us one of the more
surprising and—upon reflection—one of the more realistic responses to that
message at the tomb: The women went out and fled
from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them.
That mixture of terror and amazement is
not unusual, really. It seems to accompany most significant events in life.
What parent isn’t filled with both fear
and amazement when they first hold their new child?
What young adult isn’t seized with both
deep awe and great excitement when they graduate and face a new world filled
When Easter comes in April, we are usually
more amazed than fearful. We open our eyes and see signs of springtime and new
comes out of its cocoon—what seemed dead is alive and beautiful.
The daffodils on
the Pentecrest have pushed their way up through the ground—the hard, cold earth
brings forth life after all.
The grass is
green once more—what was drab and brown is now filled with color.
Along with the rest of creation, we made
it through another winter. It is as though not just Christians, but all of
nature is ready to celebrate the good news and new life of Easter.
And it is all quite amazing.
I remember the warm weather that met my
family on childhood Easter trips to southern Illinois. It was a welcome change.
With the warm weather, however, there
were also tornadoes.
As a child, I think I associated Easter
with tornadoes more than tulips. There was the time we drove toward
strange-colored, ominous skies, listening to the car radio for weather reports.
There were occasions when we took shelter in my grandmother’s basement until
the storm passed.
We were never harmed, but often
The tornadoes of this season are also parables
of Easter. They remind us that the renewal of life that comes with springtime
is not without upheaval and danger.
Springtime itself is an occasion of
amazement and fear.
And so, too, is resurrection. We are
threatened with resurrection.
We are threatened with resurrection
because it challenges our old ways of living.
Which brings me to eggs, those small
symbols of Easter. They look like a stone. They seem sealed tight like a tomb.
And yet out of them comes new life.
And there’s that old story about the man
who goes to a psychiatrist, concerned about his brother, who thinks he is a
chicken. Do you remember this?
“Tell me the symptoms,” the doctor says.
“Perhaps I can help him.”
“Well,” the man replies, “he clucks a
lot, he makes nests in the corners of the rooms, he pecks at the furniture.”
After thinking for a few minutes, the
psychiatrist says, “It sounds like a simple neurosis.
Bring your brother in and I think I can cure
“Oh no, Doc” says the man. “We can’t do
that! We need the eggs!”
We are threatened with resurrection,
because it challenges our old ways of living. New life threatens to take away
the eggs we have gotten used to.
All too often our horizons are death and
We embrace the notion that there are
“acceptable levels of death” from carcinogenic chemicals.
We tear apart families in the name of
We are content with an economy that
gives us an incredibly high standard of living while allowing children around
the world to face disease and starvation.
We cling to anger, bitterness, hatred,
We need the eggs.
The Guatemalan poet, Julia Esquivel
Accompany us . .
and you will
know what it is to dream!
You will then
how marvelous it
to live threatened
Resurrection threatens our old ways. And
Resurrection invites us to dream—calling us to new life and health.
Resurrection is the new possibility that
God offers to all people. Jesus is not to be found in the tomb, but goes ahead
He goes ahead of us in all those
occasions of joy and beauty that speak of life and creativity and power and
We see him ahead of us where people are
weak or broken in body, mind, or spirit.
We never know when or where we will
encounter the risen Christ. We only know that we cannot escape him.
He goes ahead and calls us to come
Fear and amazement. We experience them
both at the empty tomb. We experience them both any time we are really alive.
By God’s grace we are resurrection people, able to live with courage and strength
in the face of such fear and amazement.
Wake up and open your eyes.
Come and see what God has done.
Look up, for the horizon holds the hope
We are free to act without fear.
We are freed to act in truth and love
We are free to pursue lives of beauty
And tell the others.
Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed.
Parker Palmer, The Active Life, pg.