Sunday, April 12, 2020

Year A Easter Sunday 2020 Tucked Away

Year A Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020
Video from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Tucked Away”

Collect: Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord's resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Colossians 3:1-4
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Matthew 28:1-10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, 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; there they will see me.”

When I was a child, my dad had built me a little indoor slide, basically a box, with a ladder on one side and a slide coming off the other. As much as I loved that, just as much if not more so, there was a round hole that let me climb into the box. I would crawl in, curl up, and just sit. Tucked away in there I felt safe. I am not sure what I was afraid of, but tucked up in there, I felt nothing can get to me. It was my hiding place.

In the many summers I spent at camp, there is a praise song based off of Psalm 32:7. Sitting around a campfire, singing this, gave me such a sense of peace.
You are a hiding place for me;    you preserve me from trouble;    you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.     Selah
Even King David, who wrote the Psalm, cherished that felling of being tucked away.

A lot of us feel tucked away right now. Hidden. Some feel safe. Some feel isolated. Some are flaunting going out. We have a range of emotions all over the map. Jesus was tucked away as well.

The officials thought that they had rid themselves of a dangerous nuisance.

The disciples thought that this man that they had devoted their lives to for three years was gone for good.

The women who went to care for his remains, expected there to be a body, a body of someone they adored beginning the slow decay of mortal remains.

But while they thought Jesus being tucked away was a finality, for him and for us it was the Beginning. From those three days of silence and sorrow, the greatest event in human history transpired. The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I miss you. I really do. I miss seeing you, especially on this day of all days. This is a day to dress up. This is a day for candy and laughter. This is a day for kids looking for eggs in long grass. This is a day for community.

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed!

I miss hearing you respond back. This place should be echoing in the joyous exuberance of THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED!

But it is not. It cannot. It is what it is. We are apart because we love and live for the Least of These. We are all doing what we can to care for those for whom this would be a death sentence.

Just like Jesus. As we sang in the beautiful hymn:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!What wondrous love is this, O my soul!What wondrous love is this,That caused the Lord of bliss,To bear the dreadful curse,For my soul, for my soul,To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
Think of what Jesus did for us, out of love. And you can tuck that away.

Speaking of tucked away, that is where I want to spend the rest of my time this morning. We revel in the Resurrection this morning. This is the lynchpin of our faith. And from that EVERYTHING else emerges.

That is what can lead St. Paul to say what we read in our New Testament reading, Colossians 3:1-3:
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Sisters and brothers, we are the Children of the Resurrection. That is what brings us together in the family of God. Through faith in his Son, we have been adopted into the line of Faith that goes back to Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekkah, Jacob and Rachel. That lineage of faith, through Christ, continues in us, and through us.

In these days of either dismissal or fear, we need not run to either extreme that our cultural divide drives us to go toward. For if we are in Christ, we seek that which is above. Some of you have heard me say it this way, Jesus invites to reframe and step up. We look at what is, not from our narrow biased or partisan perspectives, but from God’s point of view, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-loving. And with that we can rise above the situation we find ourselves in and raise to a higher level of existence.

Again, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above...” In a world that is going crazy: stir-crazy, fear-crazy, enraged-crazy, whatever, we need to rise above the level of these problems. We set our minds on the things above, and in that and because of that we need not fear. Come what may, we are confident that this world is not our home. “Our life is hidden with Christ in God…” What is most real, what is most our home, is our life hidden in Christ.

In these days of hiding from, I am inviting you to reframe and step up. We are not quarantining and self-isolating to save ourselves. Our lives, if we are in Christ, are not our own. We are in Christ, and so we need not fear. We are in Christ, claimed in his Resurrection. Promised Rebirth through his Resurrection. We could view our predicament as dire, or dreaded. But I claim the Resurrection.

While I am tucked away here and now, I know something far greater than anything we face, come what may. I may be tucked away in isolation, but this is for but a season. I am tucked away with Christ in God FOREVER.

I am tucked away with Christ in God. Nothing can take that away. Nothing will ever take that away. The Cross could not take that away. Pilate, Herod, the Sanhedrin could not take that away. Hell itself, when Jesus descended to the dead, could not take that away. Friends, we are tucked away in the very hand of God and nothing or no one can ever snatch us out.

We do not know what tomorrow may bring, but the Resurrection promises to all of us we are safe and secure when we shall find ourselves home. Our lives, our true lives with Christ, have already begun. Tuck that away. It is more sure than the sun coming up in the morning. Amen

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Blessings, Rock