THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD AD 2020
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Matthew 28:1-10 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
The Virus that Stole Easter. Unreal. As unreal as a Dr. Zeus’ children’s book. None of us, certainly not me in any case, could have imagined an Easter Sunday like today. No, not even, the gifted Dr. Zeus, whose thinker could think, what no one had ever happened to think, could have thought this one up. No, this one just happened to happen, proving that truth is often stranger than fiction.
I’ve heard it over and over again from those that I’ve had the joy of speaking too and even seeing from a safe 6 foot distance, “I never would have thought that I’d see anything like this.” No, none of us have ever seen an Easter Sunday like this, and no it has never happened before. Churches closed on Easter? Some of them even locked up? Yes, there have been times when the Church has had to hide and meet in secret. But no, She has never barred her own doors and shut out her children on her highest and greatest of feast days.
I won’t go over again why love for our neighbour has moved us to stop holding public Divine Services. You’ve heard it all from me before. And no the doors are not locked at Trinity, to my knowledge they never have been, and as long as there is breath in me, they won’t be. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look for the keys. Thankfully, they may be lost altogether, as every Church key should be, would be, if the world were a kinder, gentler place. No, the doors are not locked and thankfully the faithful are still able, with the right precautions, to come as households to the Marriage feast of the Lamb.
But, yes, it is unreal, as unreal as a Dr. Zeus’ children’s book. The virus that stole Easter, yes, it sure looks that way, feels that way, and if Mr. Trudeau is right, it’s got its eyes set on Christmas too! Kyrie Eleison! Lord have mercy! Unreal, yes, it all seems a bit unreal, which believe it or not isn’t such a bad thing to be feeling on Easter morning. It after all is a feeling that many were feeling that first Easter, because they too thought, that they had had something near and dear to their hearts taken from them. Unreal, yes how unreal it must have been for Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as they went to see the tomb.
Anyone who has lost someone near and dear to them knows that unreal feeling that’s there in the days after a loved one dies. It just all seems so wrong, so impossible, so unreal. Yes, it can all seem so unreal to us, how much more so though, it must have been for these women, who had seen their Master, feed the thousands, heal the sick and raise the dead. How could it be? And yet it was, they had looked on from a distance and seen Him hanging on the cross. They had heard Him cry out with a loud voice and yield up His Spirit. They had been there when the earth shook and the rocks split.
Unreal. Jesus dead? Yes, it must have seemed so unreal to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, but it wasn’t, or was it? That he had died, that without question was certain. But dead? That was something altogether different. It was real that He had died. A spear thrust in His side had put that beyond all question, all doubt. But dead? no, that was not real. He was the Resurrection and the Life. Yes, He could and did die, but dead? No, death could not claim Him, hold Him, keep Him. No, it could not. Was dead, yes, Jesus was dead but as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary would soon find out the past was not the present with Jesus.
Unreal. Yes, it must have all seemed so unreal, and as the lightning bright angel shook the earth as he descended from heaven to roll away the stone to reveal the tomb’s emptiness, they learned just how really unreal it was. Unreal beyond all imagining in its reality. Jesus was not dead because He had risen, as He had said. If the empty tomb where He had lain was not enough to convince them of the reality of the unreality of it all, then seeing Him in the flesh, hearing His voice and holding on to His nail scarred feet put the reality of the unreality of it all beyond all question.
Unreal. Yes, beloved. It must have felt so unreal for Mary Magdalene and the other Mary that first Easter morning and it was, as it it truly is for us, when those that we love, die in the Lord. Those unreal feelings that you feel in the first days after a loved one dies in the faith, in many ways are the truest and realest feelings of all. No, they are not dead, and neither will we be when our day in this world comes to its close and we lie down to sleep. Die? Yes, they, we, die, but no, those who fall asleep in the Lord are not and never can be dead. A rolled away stone and an empty tomb are the Lord’s last word on that point.
The Virus that Stole Easter. Unreal. As unreal as a Dr. Seuz’ children’s book. Unreal. Yes, it all seems so unreal and the good news for this day is that it is! Covid 19 be damned! No you cannot and did not steal Easter and no you’re not going to get Christmas either! You may have driven us into our homes on this glorious day, but joyful alleluias are sounding all the louder in our hearts in spite of you, as will our joys to the world if you’re still lurking around come December 25th. The worst that you have to throw at us is death and Christ has destroyed its power over us because He is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia! Amen.