Homily for Easter Sunday

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

easter iconAlleluia!  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had held them and they said nothing to no one for they were afraid.

That's just so un-Easter, isn't it?  We have been waiting for the Lenten season, eagerly waiting, watching Jesus making His way to Calvary.  We've fasted.  Some have gone to church more, read their Scriptures and devotions.  We've spent the last forty days focusing our eyes on Him.

And ... We fasted from that word, that word that begins with an "A"  The A-bomb...  We couldn't even wait any longer.  We found one of the great symbols of the Easter season, the paschal candle, dusted it off and celebrated yesterday evening Easter Vigil.

Just so we could say that word that you say today...  We've waited to say, "Alleluia! Christ is risen from the dead!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!"

Yet, the woman today, they show up to the tomb not with that on their lips.  No, they were going with spices.  Why?  To prepare a dead body.

A dead Jesus.  What else did the world expect?  They expected the dead to stay dead.  And Jesus was so dead, so fast on Good Friday, that they didn't have time to.. well to prepare His dead body.  

Dying for the sin of the world would kill anyone fast - even God.  So, after the Sabbath, the ladies returned to do what was fitting for their teacher.  

Yet, they were still lost in their sins and fears.  Worried about one thing:  Who will roll away that big stone?

But, that big stone wasn't a problem.  It was rolled away.  Neither did they need the spices.  There was no dead body in that tomb.  Instead they saw a young man, an angel in white, ..

Don't 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 and tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you.

Joyful news!  Easter news!  You don't find a living savior in a tomb for dead people.  He's alive.  He's risen!  He's risen indeed!  Alleluia.

Don't fear - not even three times denier Peter.  Tell him too!  No one gets to be left out of the Gospel - not even Peter.  Jesus has risen!  He has risen indeed!  Alleluia!

But, the women didn't receive that message with joy, did they?  It was as if it had no effect on them.  As if the news of the resurrection was so unbelievable that it didn't have an impact on their lives at all!

Now, the women didn't wake up in the morning that first Easter and decide they were going to flee the tomb in fear.  No, they just did.  The life they were used to - the life where the dead stay dead - was easier than the life where the dead rise again.

But, you know the story.  You know have heard the Word of angels.  His message is the foundation of our faith, dear Saints of God. The One born of the Virgin, who lived a perfect life, who suffered the punishment due us from Almighty God.  The One crucified under Pontius Pilate has risen from the dead!  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

Guards in front of the tomb couldn't keep Him dead.  The stone in front of the tomb couldn't hold Him in.  He has routed death.  Whipped the Devil.  

Jesus is alive.  He is not in the tomb.  Not where dead people hang out.  He has risen from the dead, just as He promised.  

And don't miss that little statement:  "who was crucified."  Same Jesus who died, rose.  He paid the cost of your salvation and it killed Him.  Saving you killed the Son of God.  He sacrificed Himself for your sins.

This morning, we see that His sacrifice was acceptable of God.  That's the Easter triumph!  That's the Easter joy!  His sacrifice has made you acceptable to God.  Even you - with all your sins, fears, and failures.

Today, like the women, you have heard the message that Christ has risen from the dead.   He has burst into your world and engaged you with His Word.  How will you be after His forgiveness?  How will you live?

You can go back home afraid and trembling.  Living for yourself.  Back to the filth on your computers, television, or movie collection.  You can go back to your lying and gossip.  You can go back to cheating to get by and continue living as if there is no God, as if Christ hasn't risen.  And trembling and afraid, you can live as if this was just another Easter, another Easter Service to cross off before Christmas.

Or you can leave here raised from the dead by the Word.  Alive to God.  Dead to the world that you used to live in.  Dead to your sins, dead to living for yourself, dead to the fear of death, dead to having to push yourself forward in front of the next person.

No more fear.  No more trembling.  No living scared.  No more having to take what isn't given you because you are afraid that it won't be given to you.  No more looking over your shoulder afraid of death.

All of that died with Jesus and is in the tomb.  He is not there.  You are not there either.  Don't live that way any more.  Not after this Easter.

Today, you are different, born from above, born anew in the waters of your baptism.  Yes, you are the same as when you came in the doors.  But, you are different in that now you have heard the word that the Jesus you sought has risen from the dead.  Just as He said!

They went away afraid and told nothing to no one.  You walk away today forgiven, restored, and knowing the end of the story.  

Don't be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.  He has risen.  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  

Today, everything changes.  Because of that Gospel!  Everything about you.  Everything that you knew before, everything.

Everything.  That's your whole life.  From the reason to get up in the morning, to how you raise your kids, to how you deal with those around you, how you work, how you spend your money, how you go to church, how you forgive your enemies, how you handle your good days, how you handle your bad days, how you live with those you love, how you treat those you don't.

Don't be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified.  He has risen.  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  

Stop your fears.  God is not angry with you any more.  He has burst into your world and conquered everything that you could fear.

Your sins?  He died for them.  Your pain?  He endured it.  Your loneliness?  The punishment you deserve from Almighty God?  He suffered it.  And death?  HA!  He's conquered death.

As certainly as Christ has risen from the dead.  Death has swallowed up in victory!  The Victory of the Son of God who loved us and gave up His life for us.

His victory, is your victory - over sin, death, and the power of the devil.  He is alive.  You are alive too in Him.

And not alive some other time, not raised only raised on the Last Day.  No, you are alive today to live for others.  You have been raised today to tend to those who you are given to love.  Alive to put the needs of others before yourself.

So, do what the ladies were given to do that Easter morning:  Receive Jesus in the Word!  Receive the message of the angels.  Jesus who was crucified has risen from the dead.  He's alive.  You are alive too.

Leave your sins behind.  Leave the death and fears behind.   Leave them in the tomb.   No more living each day as Jesus didn't die and rise again for you.  He rose.  He's alive and you are alive in Him.

Come to His Supper.  Receive the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Lord.  Depart His Supper enlivened.  Walk away alive - a new creation - living for others.

For...the Fast is over.  The waiting is done.  The Paschal Candle is lit symbolizing a living Savior.   No more holding back.  The celebration has begun.  A celebration that will last far longer than the Easter season.  It will go on through all eternity.

Alleluia!  Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  He has risen indeed.  Alleluia!  In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Created: April 13th, 2009