With apologies to Christmas and the winter holiday season, Easter has always been my favorite holiday. I love the spring and the trees coming to life, the birds’ returning, the winter wrapped world slowing changing. I love the bunnies. I know-- they make no sense but I love them anyway. Even as a child growing up, I loved Easter in my family.
We’d celebrate Greek Easter in my Greek Family by going to the late night vigil. There were no pews at St Peter’s Eastern Orthodox Church—most Orthodox churches don’t have pews. Pews make one lazy so says my cousin who is an Orthodox Deacon. We are not participating by sitting on the bench he quips, as following Christ is not a spectator sport. Yes, so we’d stand for hours except for the little kids who would camp out on the floor and sleep. I remember waking up to bright lights and people joyfully exclaiming Christos Anesti! Christos Anesti!
Christ is risen! Christ is risen!
And then we’d sing: Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! Except we’d sing it in Greek and it would go faster and faster and faster. And people would dance in church and sing!
And then we’d go home and have a feast! We were starved as most of the adults in my Greek family fasted Holy Week so dinner in the middle of the night! And then we’d sleep and get up and find the hidden eggs and have Greek Egg Contest the “tsougrisma”
where one person holds a hard boiled egg and the other one strikes the egg with their egg. The egg that cracks is the resurrection egg and represents Christ coming out of the tomb. Then we’d dance Greek dances and just enjoy each other’s company. I love Easter.
I love the resurrection the new life that comes. I wonder beloved—where do you see new life dawning in your life and in the world? What do we need to do to embrace new life—to be like the egg cracked open and the Christ coming forth?
Where is there new life in our lives?
That can be a difficult question with so much darkness looming in our world. From climate change to the war in Ukraine to COVID, it has not been easy to cultivate new life.
However beloved look carefully and you will Christ risen and resurrected everywhere. In the Canada Geese that are returning and will soon have goslings. In the spring which will come- it will even here in Minnesota! In the chance to see each others beautiful smiles and faces and to be together with people again.
I see the risen Christ EVERYWHERE but mostly I see the Resurrected One in YOU!
All of you. Alleluia Christ is Risen!
And you respond:
The Lord is Risen Indeed Alleluia!
You see beloved, you are the Resurrected Christ. You are the one coming forth from tomb. All of us together. Each and every one of us that calls themselves Christ Followers are the Resurrected Body of Christ.
We are the Christ now. That’s the point of the Easter Message. Mary looks into the tomb to find it empty. Jesus comes forth alive and we celebrate that not just today on Easter Sunday but for the next 50 days. Jesus comes forth from the tomb and says, “April Fools!” I hope you laughed. God did. For God played a prank on death and destruction.
That jokester God reminded us that death doesn’t get the final word—love does. Love gets the last word in us—in you, beloved!
For all of us are invited into the practice of being fully human and fully divine in Christ and by living the practices Christ would have us live:
What are those practices?
You know them: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and the prisoners, caring for the vulnerable and the stranger… coming back to this community this church to remember who you are and to whom you belong. You are the body of Christ—you are the bread of heaven.
Beloved today, I will look into your eyes and as I hand you that little crumbly bit of the bread, I will say the words, the Body of Christ the Bread of Heaven because that is who you are and who you are invited to be!
Practice that being Christ with all your life beloved. That’s what it means to be part of the beloved community—to practice together and strive for justice together, to live radical kindness.
And we can do such good things but here’s the reality—we can practice and practice being Christ followers— doing all the right things: You can meditate and pray, go to church, get baptized and take communion, light candles and burn incense, read sacred texts, chant, fast and do yoga, and even help out at soup kitchens but to quote an old jazz song, It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing! The swing is love. Brother Sister Love is the swing.
If you aren't doing them with love, it's all a bunch of vapid, empty horse apples.
Love is the swing of our lives beloved—everything we do has to be grounded in love.
The church is the only business I know that is called to the work of Transformation. That’s what resurrection is all about. That’s what it means to come to church—to be transformed to love, to be transformed to have that swing, to be transformed into the Resurrected Body of Christ for the sake of the world and to go forth and be that Christ for the world.
We are to be little Christs in the world. That is our mission. To be like Jesus who was so deeply in love with the world that he loved people and the earth so deeply.
Teresa of Avila a mystic of the 16th century wrote of our life in the Resurrection this way:
Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
You are the resurrection beloved Each and every one of you!
With apologies to Christmas and the winter, I love Easter Best because it reminds me of how all of us are called to be the resurrection and life.