Grace to you and peace from Christ, who comes to us in peace, who rises from the grave in peace, who stays with us now in peace. AMEN.
There is so much about this day that make a lot of noise — good noise, but this can be a loud day — the music and singing of “alleluia’s”; the sounds of more people in our little sanctuary (welcome to all); the children’s excitement, all amped up on chocolate bunnies; bells and drums; and excited conversations and reunions over coffee and egg bake. This is truly a joyous day.
But the Easter story in Luke, that we share this morning has a rather quiet tone. No earthquakes or stone blasting, or booming voices. It’s has a rather quiet story in Luke:
It starts with those blessed women — given names and central places in Luke’s gospel — it starts with them, quietly approaching the tomb early in the morning...like our altar guild women
...early every Sunday morning, working quietly but faithfully, busily but calmly — rain or shine, joyous times or mournful times — they will be there. They are a visible reminder every Sunday, for me, of Luke’s Easter morning...coming in early, ready to serve the body of Christ.) Their quiet leadership and humble service is often overlooked or taken for granted...much like those blessed women at the tomb of Jesus. (If you get a moment, say thank you to the altar guild women. I’m not even going to name them...you’ve gotta sneak over here early to spot them.)
Much like our altar guild women, those blessed women of old — Mary, Salome, Joanna, and others, it says — had come to do a routine task: to anoint Jesus’ dead body with scented oils, in a timeless but quiet ritual.
The Easter story has a quiet tone in Luke.
Then, even when the women find no Jesus there, and encounter these two men in bright clothes, they don’t go screaming and running. There is still quiet. There is fear. There had to be some excitement, but no one’s coming apart at the seams, mostly because they are too terrified.
But they are faithful, despite being laid low in fear, and when they are invited to remember, they do. “Remember what he told you,” the men said.
And then they did. The scene is like things are coming into view. From blurry vision because of bright light, into some focus.
And still there is calm, still there is quiet on that first Easter morn. They don’t go running off, visibly joyful in Luke’s gospel. They’re rather like traditional Lutherans: we just express our joy differently. [expressionlessly often: “Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia.” We must drive our Pentecostal and charismatic and spirited Christian brothers and sisters crazy. More: “Alleluia, alleluia. He is arisen. Alleluia.”] :) All God’s children have a place...
But it’s actually Peter who I want to draw your attention to in this text. It says that the women told the disciples. I imagine that being a very quiet telling, a whispered recounting.
And the disciples all just thought it was an idle tale. The tone of the text is like they didn’t even really listen to them. Wasn’t worth screaming and yelling at these liars. It was just quiet. No really paid them much attention. The grief and sorrow and fear was just too loud. Jesus’ resurrection was first made known to women...and nobody seemed to care.
But Peter, it says, got up.
Peter was down, remember? Last Sunday, we read the entire passion of Jesus, according to Luke, and we the assembly this year, read the parts of Peter. Remember that? All of us together, when we were accused of knowing Jesus at the fireside chat, said, “I don’t know him. I don’t know him. I don’t know him, man!” Three times, we denied Jesus...and not so quietly there.
And how true it is. How we deny Christ, deny knowing him not so much verbally, but more importantly with our lives: the way we treat each other, the way we treat his earth, the way we treat ourselves — filling ourselves with junk, and then lashing out at the world in our own anger and fear and pain. How true it is. How we are like Peter: down. Peter was down.
But on this quiet Easter morning, Peter got up.
Something about those women’s quiet story got Peter to perk up his ear, cock his head to the side, furl his brow. Something crept into his mind, even his intellect, and he got up. A vision, a glimmer of hope? Maybe he re-membered also. Because, it says, he got up, and ran to the tomb. And all he saw there were signs — a stone rolled back, an empty cave, and grave clothes strewn about — something got Peter up and to the tomb and all he saw were signs that their quiet story was true.
Sisters and brothers in the resurrected Christ, we too are lifted up, like Peter! It might be quietly, modestly, in the whispers of our minds and our hearts and lives. It doesn’t have to be flashy and dramatic...
But know that you are lifted up this day because of Christ! ..who binds you to himself in this resurrection. This isn’t just about Jesus, who rises from the dead, and we all get to watch and cheer like spectators. That’s not Easter worship. No, all our sounds, our music and singing and alleluias, are in celebration because we are bound to Christ, in his death as we heard on Good Friday, and bound to Christ in his resurrection: “In Christ we die and rise.” Because he lives, we live, also.
Paul Gaske, our brother in the faith died on Friday. We mourn his loss, alongside his dear family, and we’ll continue to do so for a long time...just like we mourn so many others: dear friends and family who have gone before us. We mourn for a long time, some things we never really get over. (And that’s OK.) But it also has to be proclaimed this day, quietly or shouting from the rooftops, it also has to be proclaimed that in Christ, Paul, and all sinner-saints rise eternal. That though we are down, though we can get down, though we can fall down, and stumble down,THOUGH WE ARE BROUGHT DOWN, Christ raises us up through the story, the promise, the community, and the ultimate reality of his resurrection, of his conquering sin and the grave forever!
We will die in this life. But we do not die eternally, thanks be to God. We will suffer in this life, but we do not suffer eternally, thanks be to God. We’ll experience violence in this life, but we will not experience violence eternally. For in Christ’s rising from the dead, there is peace, there is salvation, there is hope, there is LIFE, life eternal. Praise be to Christ Jesus our Lord, our truth. Praise be to the eternal embrace of love that wraps around us in this time. In all times where we are brought down by the sorrows and tragedies of this life. Praise be to God, who breaks the bonds of sin, and frees us, not just after we die, but who frees us now to be the people whom we are created to be. Praise be to God for the day of resurrection! AMEN. Christ is risen. Amen. Alleluia. Amen.