Expectations on the Rise
The Rev. Jennifer L. Adams – Sermon preached on April 5, 2015 – Easter Day
So I think the scariest thing about resurrection is that we don’t expect it, we aren’t looking for it, really. And so when resurrection comes, we don’t know what’s happening.
And yet it’s how the story plays out every time! Every year this is where we stand. At the empty tomb. The bolder rolled away. Angels present. Jesus risen.
This is how the gospel story plays out every time, and the message is that this is how our story plays out too! That’s the grace. So, if you hear nothing else this morning here this: This isn’t only about Jesus rising from the dead (which is news enough,) it’s also about us. This is our story too! Resurrection comes. Not every minute. Not every hour. Not every day. But every time.
Resurrection comes. Resurrection always comes.
It’s why we’re here this morning, among other reasons, I know: your parents made you, or your spouse made you, or you felt like “it’s Easter so we have to get the kids to church.” Or maybe you work here and your boss would have had some questions for you tomorrow if you weren’t here this morning. There are always other reasons and frankly some of those reasons help us when we need them to, but really, we’re here with candles lit, lights on, flowers everywhere, and Alleluias all around because resurrection happens! And if there’s anything we need to celebrate, if there is anything the world needs to hear, it’s this: Resurrection comes. And so there is hope.
There is always hope.
Now the women in the gospel didn’t expect resurrection that first Easter morning, either, nobody did. Even tough Jesus had told he disciples in language as explicit as, “In three days I will rise again,” they still didn’t know what was happening. Resurrection took even those who had been walking every day with Jesus completely by surprise.
Now granted a lot had happened since Jesus had laid out for them how the story was going to play out. They’d watched him get arrested and put on trial. They had seen him mocked and condemned and killed. At least one of them had betrayed him at least one of them had denied him and most of them had fled for cover in the midst of it all. And there had been witnesses to his body being laid in the tomb. So they knew without a doubt that he had died. And so it’s hard to blame them for resurrection being last thing they expected to find that morning.
And I think all of that is true of us too. We wake to each morning having seen a lot, having lived a lot. Sure, we’ve heard the promise of good news. But we’ve also watched the nightly news and the numbers of tombs whose boulders seem unmovable are extremely high. We’re putting one another on trial at every turn. Condemnation of all kinds runs rampant in this world. The tendency toward mocking has hit an all time high. Unfair, unjust deaths are everywhere. And so it’s no wonder our expectations are off. It’s no wonder resurrection is unexpected and even a little scary. We’re getting far too good at all the other options.
But today is about adjusting those expectations! It’s about reminding ourselves that resurrection comes. Not every minute. Not every hour. Not every day. But every time.
Resurrection comes. Resurrection always comes. So are you looking for it? Are you expecting it? What would new life look like in your life? In our church? In our community? In this world?
Now it’s hard to answer those questions if you’re helping to hold the boulders in place. Let’s just name that tendency here and now. Come on, be honest . . . we all do it and Easter is a good time to stop. Either jump in and do some pushing – like in that story of Lazarus when it was the people who moved the boulder so that the miracle of new life could walk forward – or step back and allow the angels to do their work like we heard in the story today.
Easter calls for both – an engaged effort on all of our parts toward helping new life come to be in this world, along with a humble recognition that we can’t force resurrection. That final, ultimate Grace comes from God.
The good news is that God is doing that work, always. In fact that’s what God is fundamentally about: moving boulders, opening tombs, bringing new life. Resurrection!
So today permission has been officially, divinely granted us to change our expectations, as scary as that might be. Resurrection will take us to new places. Resurrection will challenge us. Resurrection will change us. And if we share a bit of all of this, we can begin to change the expectations of our world too. And who knows what might happen then.
The story we heard today is our hope. This is our future, all of ours. Resurrection is how the story ultimately plays out, every time.
May we expect it to be so.