SONstruck on Easter Morn!

Christ is risen. Risen indeed! It's EASTER! First comes Mary. In the dark! John's Gospel's quite clear about that. BUT: she sees the stone's been rolled away. Wait a minute. Didn't we just say it was dark? Surely there were no street lamps! So where'd the light come from so she could see?  Where else but the tomb… a kind of bright footprint of the Risen Lord? An afterglow, if you will. And to Mary, a bedazzling bewilderment. Even before sun-up, she's SONstruck on Easter morn. She doesn't really get it. 'Dashes to the disciples. "They musta taken the Lord right out of his tomb, God only knows where!" Peter and John book-it to the scene on the dead run. (And they believe they are running to the dead.) By now it's sun-up. No need for torches and such. When they look in they see the rumpled grave clothes and the rest. But the intensity of the moment burns their eyes (and souls) like a too-bright-flash-bulb in a too-dark instant. You know that sensation! Oh, they believe, but only that Jesus is gone, not that he's risen. John's report couldn't be clearer on this point. Once again, SONstruck on Easter morn. Mary lingers. Christ Risen appears to her. She mistakes him as the gardener. Good grief! How can this be? Well… did you ever see someone coming… walking toward you right out of the sunlight? 'Like a charred-black shadow on in a field of blazing light! SONstruck one-more-time. It turns out Easterseeing-is-believing doesn't work. It rarely does. No, the Easter truth is: we have to believe… to see! Resurrection turns everything inside out and upside down. And when He calls our name, like Mary's, why, then, so much the better. So much the clearer.

O, we'll need to get our eyes adjusted to the resurrection light. Nothing's as it used to be. There are letters in the NT, bearing Peter's name. One English version (The Message) quotes him this way. "Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for." (I, 1:3) This brand-new life runs all the way from here to hereafter. Gee whiz, since Easter last, we've been treated to a brand-new life alright. Banks are busted, credit's crashing, jobs are being junked. Our 401K's are down to 201K's and our 2 hot wars overseas can't hide the drug war on our border. Surely this is not the Jesus-light or the Jesus-life. Jesus-light never suffers from recession. "Look, I'm always with you, even to the end of the ages!" In Jesus-life there is no unemployment. "The harvest is plentiful," he says. Our retirement is utterly secure and not subject to the whims of Wall Street (or any other). "I go to prepare a place for you. And when I do, I'll come and take you to myself so that you can be where I am, now and forever." His peace, it's promised, "passes all understanding."  He says to us, "My peace I give to you. 'Not the fragile, fleeting, flickering peace of this world, but the real thing!"  It'll never leave you.

This Easter changes everything. It begins with a new form of seeing. It believes first. Then it looks on the evidence and signs, not the other way around. And it lives on, day in, day out/year in, year out… 'til the Kingdom comes… not because we hold on to it (for ourselves), but because once we come and see it, we go and tell all about it! Jesus calls Mary by name. Dead guys never do that. Ghosts either. Rumors never address us personally. Our Easter Jesus does just this, ever since Mary. There are/have been people in this room who can tell you. Names like Mary, Jim, Don, Ellen, Caroline, Lisa; even Ken, Jeff, Jordan and John. Have you heard your name called? If not, talk to someone here who has! But we don't get to possess Christ. He has no time for that. No, we only get to keep him by sharing him. Go and tell he says to Mary. And now, TODAY, to us. I tell you a secret I supremely hope you will share. Resurrection is not limited to Easter. 'Doesn't wait for it. 'Or linger, only 'til the Easter-midnight hour. I like what Jonathan Kozol suggests. We are surrounded, by the power and in the name of Jesus, with Ordinary Resurrections. New life from broken hopes, dented dreams and death defeated. I get this call. "Rev., the doctor called. He says there's nothing he can do. I ended up comforting him. 'It's OK,' I said. 'I got another doctor, too. Jesus. And there's nothing he can't do! And he tells me I'm gonna be alright. Forever. So I'm more excited about livin' with him than dyin' with my disease." I see this story. "Ken, I lost my wife because I cheated, my job because I lied and my kids because I lashed out. I lost me because I lost my worth. But two weeks ago at a stop light, I looked over at that big stone church. The one with the concrete Jesus hanging on that concrete cross. And it was like I heard him say my name. And then, 'I'm up here for you. You. You.

It was weird. But wonderful. I got it. I gotta chance, because of him. If he can get down off that cross and forgive me, and get outta the grave and talk to me, I can get outta this ditch. And talk to the ones I love. And ask them to forgive, too. I can be… NEW." O my, SONstruck on Easter morn!

The power of this day does not lie in some fine theological argument. Nor in any carefully crafted doctrine or creed. It lies in a living experience. Particular, personal, persistent.

I can tell you, when he forgives, this Jesus,

you are truly, finally, forever at peace in your soul.

Confess. Embrace him. Let him turn your life around. I did.

Live like you never did before;

 love like you never could before.

Be saved as you never were before.

On that cross: He bleeds; I weep.

He thirsts. My soul is parched.

But come Sunday, there comes a SONstruck light!


The Bible word for resurrection is anastasis. Literally: standing up again. Maybe the only thing more breath-taking than the Easter light is this. They saw him, we see him… on his feet again! Despite the dense disciples, the draining miracles, the terrible trial, the tortuous treatment and the crushing cross, Jesus is back on his feet, come Easter morning! With us, for us, Christ is standing up again…. And he is saying, "Come and stand with me." SO THIS MORNING,

if you want to lay down some sadness, stand up.

If you've got an ailment, a dis-ease or a "condition"

and you want to get back on your feet, stand up.

If you've got something or someone sorta standin' on your neck

and you wanna get 'em off and get on your feet again, stand up.

This is Jesus' resurrection day! Yours too.

If sin, your sin, sin of any kind, has knocked you off your feet,

Or death, or dying, or forgetting too much

or remembering too much has you flat on your back,

today's your resurrection day… stand up… again!

If you're not glued to your chair or your pew,

and you believe in your heart resurrection's for you… STAND UP!

Everybody… UP… SONstruck on Easter Morn.

All Hail the power of Jesus' name!

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