An Easter Sermon

 

Easter Sunday
St. Augustine of Canterbury, Edmonton, April 5, 2015
Rev. Jonathan Crane

 

Jesus Lives! Thy terrors now

Can no longer, Death, appall us

Jesus Lives! By this we know

Thou, O Grave, canst not enthrall us

Alleluia

 

“Enthrall” means to ‘hole’ or ‘captivate’

 

I know that this hymn got your attention

Any hymn with the word Jesus on the same line as “terrors”

catches us these days

Both words are potent

 

The hymn is about Death, and the Grave, and Hell

And whatever you think about the hymn, this Sunday is about those things too

Death is our counterpoint for thinking about what we are thinking about today

This Sunday really doesn’t make sense without Good Friday, the commemoration of Jesus’ Death

Or Holy Saturday, yesterday, when we consider how the body of Jesus,

that sack of bones

Rests

like we will all rest one day.

 

We forget that death is always with us.

I think of cultures and areas who are more generally familiar with death than we are.

Where the kids see it almost daily,

In animals, in their aging grandparents who live in their house

In the openness of violent acts

Death, the Grave, and Hell are in the face of children

Death which wanders around with them

The Grave which is messy, perhaps which they dug themselves for family members

And Hell, on earth, the breakdown of everything good.

 

We hear about places like that, but few of us know them

 

And yet, death is always with us

We are shocked when it makes itself known

But death does not really come out of nowhere

life and death are inches apart

The shadow behind the door

For me I could meet it today

Or when I am well-worn of days

It is not reserved only for the later years

I am in my 33rd year

A year I am meditating

That Jesus met his end of life

We think of 33 years in our culture, as the beginning of career

Jesus in his 33rd year had completed his vocation

Death

 

And what we hear today of death,

What we hear today of the grave

What we hear today of Hell

This Easter day

Is that

“he is not here.”

“he is not here.”

 

“Do not be alarmed”

Yes he did die, the angel says

But he has been raised

He is not here

His body no longer rests

He is out among the people

He is not in the tomb

He is going ahead of you

He is not laid where they could control him and keep him bound

He is free

He is not cold and sunken, decomposing

He is vigorous, and fresh

The grave did not enthrall him

And nor can it us

 

As Isaiah says,

“He will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples,

the sheet that is spread over all nations;

he will swallow up death forever.”

 

We heard last night from the words of St. John Chrysostom that

“Hell thought it was getting a body, and it got God.”

Whatever power death had

Was burst.

For our Lord and for us.

The grave is burst

The pall removed.

 

Death remains all about us.

But listen today

In this Easter celebration

That death has no hold on you.

You are worth more than a sack of bones left to slowly die from the moment of birth

You are never too old and close to death to make an impact – it is astonishing how many great world changes and life-altering sayings have been extracted from the death bed

Neither are you bound by the fear of death

If you fear death, meditate on that fear

Why?

Where did it come from?

What right does death have to limit your life?

It has no right, we hear today.

You are not to be bound by fear

Death has no hold on you

Which means that there is nothing that can hurt you

Nothing that can take life away from you

The life in you

The life in your lungs

Is pure gift

Pure gift of God

Nothing can remove that gift

And the call instead

Is to live all our life in gift

And breathe every breath in the fullness of life

Free from fear

Vigorous and fresh

Following in the way of our Lord

Into new life

Death is here

It is absolutely

In this room

In our bodies

In the earth beneath our feet

In our cars even from millennia of decomposed bio mass

However, we hear passed on from Christian to Christian,

from our scriptures and all who have known resurrection in their lives

However, we must listen, Jesus is not in a tomb

He is among us as one full of life

In community

Among the poor

Among the sick

Among the dying

Among the growing

Among the kids

Among the restless

Among the waiting

Jesus is there

Jesus is here as he is in the quietness of our homes

And the busyness of our livelihoods

Jesus is not in a tomb

He is here

 

And so Death and Resurrection live side by side

Like two plants

Like two brothers

And because of that Second Thing

At Death

We sing

Alleluia

In the face of Terror

We sing

Alleluia

Because that is where Jesus has met us

 

Thanks be to God.

 

Amen.