Growing up in Houston TX, we always used to have our Spring Break during Holy Week and this next week after, i.e. the first week of the Easter Season. (I’m reminded of that because this year, that’s how it fell for our kids.)
Back then, for me, this schedule always made the first week of Spring Break really about church, at least later in the week and at night. We’d go to all the services. I would often go home scared after Maundy Thursday, even crying myself to sleep because they did such a good job at recreating the story for us, slamming the book, running out into the darkness, I remember pondering, even as a little boy, the ways that we all betray Jesus. Made me cry. And Good Friday was always somber, even at home, we were pretty quiet all day. Mom would always relay the events to us like they were unfolding in real time. About 9 o’clock, “This is when Jesus was taken before Pilate.” At about 10 o’clock, “This is when Jesus was whipped, given the crown of thorns, and brought in front of the crowd.” At about 11, “Ah, this is when they shouted ‘crucify him, crucify him!’...And now he’s started walking up the path.” She rehearsed the events like a biblical scholar, even though later in life, I never found those times matching up...didn’t matter. She was remembering the story. She was putting that Passion story together for us.
Saturday was a quiet day too. Although, Saturday was when we started packing our suitcases...
I always had trouble sleeping on Holy Saturday night. I’d go to bed actually thinking about Jesus being raised from the dead -- kind of confusing, creepy, as well as anticipatory and exciting. We’d always be really exited about all the festivities of Easter morning. Even more, to be honest, we’d go to bed excited and thinking about Easter Sunday afternoon, when we would be packing our little station wagon and driving out across East Texas, into Louisiana. We aimed to get all the way to Biloxi, Mississippi on Easter Sunday night. You see, we were going the Disney World for the rest of spring break -- not every year, but those few years headed for Disney World were the best!
What I’m thinking about this Easter morning is remembering. When I would finally fall asleep on Holy Saturday, somehow in the haze and dreams of sleep I would forget what the next day had in store, even when I first work up on Easter Sunday! All this good stuff -- honestly, between Easter at church and family and vacation, it couldn’t get any better -- and still I’d forget, for a moment, even when I’d wake up!
Do you know that moment? When you wake up, but you haven’t yet come to? When you haven’t yet remembered what’s in store for you today? That moment can last a few seconds, like it did for me as a kid...and that moment can last for years: [pause]
How we can forget. We can forget the stories that have brought us to this point. We can forget the blessings that are right in front of us. We can forget the relationships that mean the most to us, like we’re in some kind of haze. We can forget the forgiveness, the grace, the peace, and the invitation that God plainly and lovingly has for us.
If the opposite of forgetting is re-membering, then maybe we should call forgetting “dis-membering”. Everything falls apart. Isn’t that what seemed to happen in our Passion narrative of Holy Week? Everything falls apart, everything is dis-membered. [pause] But then there’s that light that sparks when we come to: [just remembering] “Oh, yeah!!”
The disciples in our Easter story today were awake -- they were out and about, the women disciples namely were even up bright and early...but they hadn’t yet come to. The women at the tomb had forgotten/dis-membered, the other 11 disciples had forgotten/dismembered, Peter himself had forgotten/dis-membered. But Easter...is the day and the season (50 days, actually) of re-membering. [You/we should do an activity of remembering during these 50 days of Easter -- scrapbooking, or record some family stories, or review your bible stories (narthex art), remembering is Easter business, even more than eggs and baskets and bunnies!]
And it’s the angels call us back to memory, and once again give us a new song. Angels in Luke’s Gospel are always giving us a new song -- Remember them at Christmas (“Glory to God in the highest…”)?
And today: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you?…”
Remember? “Oh, yeah!!” I love when our kids remember something right in front of us, because their little eyes light up, and a smile grows across their face when they come to. [And getting so jazzed.] “Oh, yeah!!” I’m sure that’s what happened to me too, when I woke up on those vacation, Easter mornings as a child. “Oh, yeah!!”
This is what happens to us, when we respond, “Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia.” Our eyes light up, the smile creeps across our face. “Oh, yeah!!”
Can’t you just see that happening to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women who were with them? “Oh, yeah!!!” Excited!! They ran out to tell the others. Now, it didn’t take right away for the men [no comment]. They said it was an “idle tale”, a dream. But eventually, I’m sure, it happened to them too. “Oh, yeah!!”
And can’t you just see it happen to Peter. The smile didn’t go creeping on his face just yet: He ran back to the tomb and found the linen grave clothes thrown all over the floor. And then…”Oh, yeah!!!!”
Sisters and brothers in Christ, Easter is about remembering. Easter is about being put back together by God. The lightbulb goes on, and we are re-membered, as we remember. (We are remembered, even as we forget.) This is our God! Conquering death so that we might be put back together. Forgiving our sin, so that we may now turn and love one another, forgive each other in response. This is our God! Putting us back together. Easter is about remembering. So that we may go and tell our sisters and brothers who have forgotten, who have been forgotten; so that we may go to those places where dis-remembering has taken place. [pause] Where things have fallen apart, where lives are lost, and stories are lost, and joy is lost. Christ rises from the grave so that stories can be told anew, lives can be restored, hearts can be put back together, and joy can be found.
This grace and mercy, this new life is ours because of Christ Jesus. The risen Christ is the spark that lights the fire of faith, the Easter fire that burns in our hearts and kindles our imaginations and our courage to go and be the disciples of Jesus for this new day. The flame of love and welcome and grace rises from this altar, this font, this book, this community.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! “Oh, yeah!!”
Now don’t forget it. AMEN.