|April 12, 1998 - Easter Sunday|
|Rev. Virnette Hamilton|
|First Congregational Church, New Milford, CT 06776|
|Write to Rev. Hamilton|
Title: ' " I have seen the Lord" '
Scripture Reading: John 20: 1-18
So wonderful for the spring flowers, the daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, lilies, to surround our sanctuary. And outside, Azalea, and the trees are blossoming, the trees and the grass are turning green, Everything seems to be in bloom - on this Easter Sunday - it is not hard to believe in resurrection when we have this beautiful reminder to capture our attention.
But think about this - in half of the world, the southern hemisphere, Easter happens in the autumn of the year . What would that be like? - would it change anything for you?
Easter is a mystery because resurrection is a mystery. While we use the rejuvenation of the earth as a vivid reminder of resurrection, in our hearts we know that resurrection is much more than what we can explain by looking at new buds on a tree or the flowers produced by a seemingly dead bulb. I would hazard a guess that none of us here have ever seen the kind of resurrection we celebrate on Easter Sunday. That is why it is such a mystery to us.
So how are we to understand that mystery which we are asked to celebrate today? How are we to make our way from the cross to the empty tomb - to the point of joy? We need to be fully engaged in the search for the risen Christ. We know that like Mary and the disciples who went to the tomb that day, we have faced the cross and we have searched for a sense of God's presence. We do have knowledge of Resurrection - and what we know about it is opened to us through our own personal history -
Sometimes we have been right in the midst of facing the cross and we have found resurrection - yet it is only when we look back - and remember - that we experience the risen Christ.
I had a moment like that during Holy week. I began remembering special Easter Sundays - until I tripped over a memory that has haunted me - . I realized then that resurrection can be discovered in our pasts, as we remember.
I was only 9 or 10 when my family built a new home. Even though I don't remember the excitement and anticipation of our first Easter in the new house, I certainly do remember Holy Saturday.
My mother was expecting all of the relatives for dinner on Easter, but on Saturday we had a huge snow storm. (not uncommon in Iowa) After getting the car stuck in the driveway, my mother decided that she would walk to the grocery store for those forgotten, but necessary ingredients for our Easter dinner. Knowing that my brother and I were too young to walk in the deepening snow to the store and also too young to spend much time alone unchaperoned, she did what any mother would do - she made sure that we were busy with something that would capture our attention until she got back. Dying Easter Eggs.
We were set up at the kitchen table, with an ample supply of hard boiled eggs and the dye was prepared and in old jelly jars. The table and floor were covered with newspaper and we had on our dad's old shirts. She left and we were quite content. Content for a while - until only one egg was left - and there were 2 of us ready to dye it. That is when it all came unglued. I don't remember who started it, but for the sake of the sermon, I will take credit for it - after all, I was the oldest.
After the exchange of words that only siblings can think up, I picked up that wire dipping stick and used it to spray my brother with red dye. Suddenly there was dye flying through the air - we were laughing with great delight as our clothes and the table became splattered with the wonderful Easter colors...
And then we heard my mother's key in the door. As she stood in the kitchen with a horrified look on her face we looked around for the first time. The wall paper, the curtains, the refrigerator, you name it, the kitchen was covered with splatters of Easter color. The curtains, did I mention that my mother had just hung those curtains, curtains that she had made with her own hands. Splattered Curtains that caused big tears to roll down her face.
It was a horrible moment. I had made my mother cry. And Easter was only a few hours away. This was not good timing. I imagined how awful Easter would be - me in my room, forever. No egg hunt, no church in my new dress, no playing with my cousins, nothing. I felt as though I should be banished from the family. I had made my mother cry. This was one of the darkest days of my very young life.
Then I heard her say it - "go to your room" I learned a lot about prayer that afternoon. At six I was invited to come out of my room to eat dinner and I waited. But, nothing was said.
As a matter of fact, nothing much was ever said. The curtains had been washed and the mess had been cleaned up. Easter went on as planned and I wasn't banished from the family - On Easter morning, I was greeted with hugs and love. I really enjoyed church that morning.
As a child I could accept this forgiveness and love as a given. As an adult, I recognize the grace that prevailed against all odds. I know the way my heart felt when I knew that I was forgiven - my life didn't end. Resurrection wormed its way into my young life, teaching me that God's redeeming love comes to us through our experiences, even when we least expect it. As I remembered that Easter Sunday I discovered sacred secrets and a transcendent moment.
Ordinary events in our everyday lives carry the power that allows us to discover the true meaning of resurrection... We understand the mystery of resurrection better when we remember, with our eyes and ears open, that we have indeed, encountered the risen Christ.
That first Easter morning Mary went to the tomb to do what needed to be done... and she stayed and searched, even though she was bewildered by what she had seen.
She continues to search - until she hears her name called - and it all comes back to her - "Mary, Remember Mary - remember what I told you?" and at that moment - Holiness breaks through the darkness. and Mary recognizes her savior.
This Easter morning Christ greets us and invites us to discover those sacred secrets of resurrection.
"Remember" - Christ says to us - Remember, so that you can go tell the world - "I have seen the Lord"
May the holiness of the risen Christ break through your darkness and may you recognize, your savior, the Messiah. Happy Easter.
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