April 24, 2011: EASTER DAY – 10:55 am

Posted on : Apr 21st, 2011 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

I still remember with such joy and clarity one of the great “rites of passage” in my life.  I had just passed the road test for my driver’s license!  In NY State where I grew up, when you passed your road test, they ceremoniously ushered you into the DMV offices and right there and then, issued you your driver’s license.  It was an awesome experience, and I was nothing short of elated!  My mom accompanied me to the test site, and of course let me drive home.

Later that day my mom was preparing dinner and needed something from the store.  She turned to me and asked me if I wanted to go to the store to get what she needed.  I said, “Sure I’ll go,” not even thinking about what was coming next.  She handed me the keys to her car and said, “Take your time and be very careful.”  I had not even thought about being able to drive to the store!  I was so excited I was ready to explode.  I went out, got in the car, started the engine and as I started to back out of the driveway, I realized I was alone.  There was nobody in the car with me.  Up until this point, I had always had an experienced driver sitting next to me.  As I backed out of driveway and started driving down the street, I was both excited and terrified.  It was a strange mix of emotions!  The safety of having somebody next to me wasn’t there.  I was totally on my own.  And yet, even in the midst of that fear, that newness, I was overcome with excitement. I was “grown up enough” to have my driver’s license and now I could drive alone!  Perhaps you’ve shared this same experience?

As I think about the community of faith’s response to the Resurrection of Jesus, I think it is much like my experience of learning to drive.  It was both awesome and frightening.  Suddenly they were all alone.  The One who had taught and guided them wasn’t there next to them any longer.  They were “driving solo.”  They had to learn to draw on what they had been taught and what Jesus’ had shown them about following in his Way.  They had passed the test of faith.  They had been out preaching, teaching, healing, loving, caring and doing everything Jesus had done, and just before his death, Jesus gave them “the keys to the kindom.”  But now their teacher, their guide, their trusted friend, was no longer with them.  Jesus knew they, and we, would grow into faith.

It took a number of years – and one accident because I was joking around with my brothers and not paying attention to the car that had stopped in front of me – before I realized that getting my driver’s license was not the end, but the beginning of the process known as “learning to drive.”  The good folks of the DMV in the state of NY recognized I had enough knowledge and skill to drive, so they licensed me.  But then, I had to build on those skills to become a truly good driver.

That’s the same message God gives us this and every Easter Day.

Resurrection is not the end of our faith journey, but the beginning.  It is God’s gift of setting us free from whatever holds us down, whatever holds us back, whatever buries us in despair or inferiority or disbelief.  Its Christ’s way of saying to us, “You can do it.  Now go, and live life in a new way.”

Resurrection isn’t just about what happens to us at the end of our lives – it’s not “passing the test,” it’s the beginning of a whole new experience of learning how to live responsibly and freely in relationship with our God who says, “Go and live life fully!”

Easter Blessings,

Dan

This Sunday’s Scriptures

Matthew 28: 1-7

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.

Now after the Sabbath, as the dawn was breaking on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher.  And there was a great earthquake; for an angel of God descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.  The angel’s appearance was like lightning, and its raiment white as snow.  Filled with fear, the guards shook and trembled and fell down as though they were dead.

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  Jesus is not here, but has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead!”

John 20: 1-18

The risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene.

Now, on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “they have taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter, reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following after, and went into the tomb; Peter saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Jesus, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”  Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned and responded in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to God; but go to my friends and say to them, I am ascending to God my Father and Mother and your Father and Mother, my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Sovereign!” and she told them that Jesus had said these things to her.