The Resurrection of Our Lord AD 2021
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Kurt E. Reinhardt
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Mark 16:1-8 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Afraid. Yes, I was afraid last week when Mr. Ford told us to stay tuned for new restrictions being announced on Thursday. Afraid, yes I was afraid that what was coming soon to a theatre near me was “The Virus that Stole Easter - the sequel.” More often than not movie sequels are worse than the original motion picture, especially when, like in this case, they have the same plot line, with all the same characters. Sure, we’ve got the new variants of concern making their starring role, but otherwise there’s not much that’s new about it.
Thankfully Mr. Ford has continued to recognize the importance of this place and what goes on here and allowed up to 30 of us to still gather. Yes, that’s a huge improvement over last year, when we were only allowed to have 5 people at a time, which left this sacred place all but empty on the most holiest of days in the Christian year. As hard as it was last year to come over here early in the morning to get ready for service in an all but empty Church, without the sweet smell of Easter breakfast being prepared in the Church basement, it was hard to believe and perhaps even more heart breaking to find it missing again this year.
Yes, the “Virus that stole Easter” the sequel, has come to a theatre near most of us this year. Thankfully, we can come to Church, but no, we cannot gather to celebrate with our dear family and friends. Worse, yes, in some ways it is worse, with these bad actor variants and this tiresome plot line that hasn’t changed. Sure, they’ve changed things up and called it a somehow nicer “Shut down” rather than a mean old “Lock down,” but it’s still the same story in so many awful ways. No seeing anyone. No sharing of a meal. No warm greetings and absolutely no hugging or physical displays of affection.
Afraid, yes, I was afraid that this was going to happen, especially after the virus did its best to swipe Christmas. I remember last year at this time hoping that we’d be back to some sort or normal by the time Christmas rolled around, and I never would have imagined that we’d be back under “lockdown,” or sorry, rather “shutdown’ a whole Easter later. Afraid, yes, I’m afraid to even think about next Christmas and Easter, has the virus already started production on Part 3? Afraid, yes, afraid seems to be a part of the “new normal” that our health leaders said was coming to us so many months ago.
Yes, afraid, that afraid, is just what we’re going to be for some time to come. Afraid that I will get the virus, and even more afraid that I will pass it on to someone that I love. Afraid that my compromised family members won’t get their vaccine in time. Afraid that I won’t get a vaccine in time. Afraid of what the vaccine might do to me, or my family. Afraid that the vaccine won’t work against the new variants. Afraid that if I get the virus, or even more afraid, that someone that I love gets it, that there won’t be space in the ICU for them. Afraid for my life and the life of those that I love. Afraid for my job and the jobs of those that I love. Afraid for my next school year. Afraid for my wedding plans. Afraid that all this is just never going to end.
For they were afraid, yes, beloved, we’re not alone in our fears this Easter. The three women who went to the tomb early on that first Easter morning were filled with fear when they found the tomb empty and saw an angel sitting on the right side, who told them that Jesus had risen. They were so filled with fear, that they fled trembling from the tomb. Yes, the women were afraid, as well as the 11 apostles who were hiding away behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. There is a lot of joy in the Easter accounts, but there is also a lot of fear as well. It comes up over and over again, “for they were afraid.”
Fear is, after all, just part of the deal for sinners in this sinful world. It goes hand in hand with the whole death thing, that comes along with the sin, that our first parents brought into God’s perfect creation. We have all known and will all know fear of one kind or another, as many of us are going through right now. It may not be the astonishment and trembling kind of fear that seized hold of the three women on the first Easter, but it will be there in one form or another. As it has been for many for going on more than a year now. Trembling? Perhaps not, but a constant nervous tension and gnawing anxiety? Yea, it will be there and no, it’s not nice.
Which is why this morning, beloved, God has sent me like the angel on the first Easter to add to your fear. What? “No, thanks,” you want to say, “I’ve got more than enough fears for my liking as it is. Don’t want/need any more of that.” But it is what your loving God wants you to have this holy day, beloved, because it is what you desperately need, especially with all that is going on right now. You need a deep profound fear, that can drive all other fears from your hearts. That fear, beloved, is the fear of Lord and His awesome power that is greater and mightier than anything else in all of creation, including Covid and its variants and all the awful stuff that it has done.
You need that kind of fear, beloved, because it is the only fear that can give you true and lasting peace in this broken sinful world. The Lord wants me to deepen that fear in you, by directing your eyes to the empty tomb of His Son. See in that empty tomb, how sin, death and hell were overcome by the Son of God. Covid, its variants and all the awful stuff they have done are nothing compared to Him and what He has done and can do for you. No, with Him for you and in you, there’s nothing else to fear, beloved, not your sins, not your death, not hell and certainly not Covid and its variants. Jesus is greater and more powerful than anything that they can throw at you.
Hear Him from the altar today, as He comes to you in His resurrected body and blood, “In the face of all the things that you fear, fear Me more,” He says, “In the face of all that they could do to you, fix your hearts on what I have done for you. In the face of all that they have taken away, fix your hearts on all that I give to you. In the face of all their threats fix your heart on my promises to you. In the face of all their power, fix your hearts on my victory. Fear me and know and live in the eternal peace that it will give to you. You and your days are in my almighty nail scarred hands.”
And so let your Alleluias, ring out loud and clear, beloved, because “The Virus that Stole Easter - the sequel” has bombed as badly as the first one did, as it will for however many parts it tries to release in the future. Because the Covid franchise simply can’t compete with the victorious Son of God. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.