The Lord is Risen! Alleluia! But…umm…Why? ~ The Rev. Jay Van Lieshout, OPI

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The Lord is Risen! Alleluia!

Today we celebrate the anniversary of our Lord’s resurrection; we commemorate the victory of Christ over the bonds of death and joyously proclaim His return to us and to the world so that we, too, can all be renewed, reawakened from our own spiritual slumber, and be raised up into the loving arms of our Father just as Jesus did nearly 2 millennia ago.  And while we remember and give thanks for this auspicious event each and every Sunday, today we open ourselves up to the bewilderment and the overwhelming emotions felt by Mary as she saw the stone moved from the opening of the tomb and, bending down to look in, finding it empty.   And Peter and all the other disciples who looked in to only find burial linens heaped on the floor, and the soudarion, the face cloth, neatly rolled off to the side.  And then the joy and spiritual ecstasy when they see and finally recognize Jesus right there, in front of them, alive!  Oh what elation their hearts must have felt!

Oh it must have been a marvelous and great joy to have Jesus back with them; and we know He is with us here, now, each and every day— not only just in spirit but in the flesh. But have you ever asked yourself why; why did the son of man need to return in flesh?  The return manifested in spirit alone would have rocked the world and brought joy and salvation to the world; so why resurrect the frail flesh only to have it ascend into heaven and be gone once again?  Of course, the prophesies and Jesus Himself foretold this, but WHY?

The answer is surprisingly simple:  while you can destroy the temple, destroy the ark, destroy the tablets and even destroy the written Word of God in the Torah, the Word, this Logos of God, can never die or be destroyed for it is emblazoned on the hearts of the faithful, it lives in the words of our mouth and the actions of our hands.  It is in everything we see around us from the light of the sun, to the fish in the sea.  It can be twisted and beaten, ripped and bathed in the blood of innocents, it can be dragged in the dust of the streets and soaked with the sweat of the oppressed, it can be nailed up, burned by the rays of the sun, stiffened, faded and crumbled back into dust, but it cannot be erased, it cannot be changed, it cannot die.  It is a Living Word of a Living God, a word made into the flesh of the Son of Man, and as the Word made flesh, this flesh cannot be erased or destroyed, for even if it is tangled in the chains of death, it breaks free and is resurrected to live again.

Our God is a Living and Loving God!  The God of our ancestors is not found in statues made of clay or fine metal, He doesn’t reside locked in a shrine or temple; nor does He have a name, for names are static nouns and stagnant adjectives. When Moses asked “who shall I say sent me”, the reply was a VERB, the state of being: “I am”.  How profound, our God exists in time and space, our God moves and can be seen in actions!  He is a creator, a life sustainer, one who moves in our lives but not as pagan gods who played with humans as one plays with dolls or as pawns in some game, but as a parent, a caregiver, as one who gives life, nurtures it and envelops it in love.  Our Creator lives in us and we are alive through Him; He is our parent and we are His children.  We are brought into life by sacrament of living water of baptism.  Living water which flows and bubbles and gurgles, like a great river which runs over barren ground and brings forth new life and new beginnings, it fills the soil with nutrients, it protects the crops from withering and provides for a bountiful harvest. Our God is a creator and His Word is the Word of creation, of truth, of LIFE and of LOVE.

Our Lord, the Son of Man, was the physical embodiment of God’s Word, a living testament to God’s promise to His people, a living example of what God wishes in return for all that we have been given, the light of truth in a world of lies and darkness.  Jesus came to show us how to forgive, so that we may be forgiven, how to love so that we may be loved, how to be faithful so that we might be living examples of the Gospel, the good news, the TRUTH in the Word of God.  Jesus forgave His detractors, His prosecutors, His false judges and His executioners.  In a final act of altruism and faith He willingly gave Himself to be sacrificed as a benevolent example of God’s love for us and desire to for us to be a part of His kingdom.

Jesus died so that we might be spared the pain and suffering brought by arrogance, self-righteousness and ignorance such as the prodigal son had to endure before he opened his eyes to the truth and was able walk the path of humility and repentance and return home to his father’s embrace.  Jesus was resurrected to show the world that our God lives and His Word lives as an eternal flame of truth and a balm of salvation, and even when made manifest in the frailty of mortal flesh, it cannot be dimmed or suppressed or destroyed, not by time, not by man and not even by death!

Yes, today we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from death’s grip, we celebrate His return to us, we celebrate the fulfillment of the scriptures and yes, we even celebrate the renewal God brings us each Sunday and especially on this Sunday in springtime.  But Christ’s resurrection brings more blessings to light than just these.  It bears evidence to our living God’s eternal and unchanging promise.  It reveals His being moved by even the smallest of needs of His creation whether it be a breeze to carry the downy seeds of a dandelion to fertile soil, nectar for a hungry butterfly, dew on the blades of grass to quench the thirst of a lamb or the feeling of a warm embrace for those who mourn the loss of a loved one.  Yes, even the simple needs of His creation move the Living God.  Psalm 91 tells us “He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. [He] will rescue those who love Him, protect those who trust in His name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.

Today we celebrate the Father’s promise of forgiveness, compassion and love which is so beyond our comprehension that His son gave His very own life so that we might see the truth, forgo the suffering of the prodigal son and directly walk path of the faithful straight into the arms of our loving Father and forever LIVE as His beloved children.

 

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