Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen, indeed. Alleluia.
What a joy it is to be with you this day, gathered as a community of faith, praising God and thanking him for the wonders he has done. Indeed, as our youth would call it: “What an awesome God we have!”
I was once approached by a lady holding a sign “Homeless. Hungry.” asking me for spare change. I stopped, looked at her and thinking she was one of those “legit” ones, I started to dig onto my pocket, only to realize it was empty. I had no spare change. I was totally embarrassed by it and felt bad that there was nothing I could do. After all, I had an empty pocket.
As I was preparing for this blog, I got into thinking about that troubling experience and somehow went on to think of other images of “emptiness”, as in empty hearts; empty words, empty promises and empty relationships. And more “images of emptiness” just kept on coming: empty houses, empty churches, empty wallets, empty lots and many, many more. I’m sure that you, too, have your “images of emptiness”.
Every time we visualize such images, notice that we often think of something that is tainted with negativity, something bad or something undesirable and perhaps, even with some embarrassment. Most of us don’t want anything that’s empty, especially empty pockets.
But today, it is different. We are in the midst of something empty and it’s not necessarily something negative or bad. Today, we are in solidarity with other faith communities rejoicing in an empty tomb. We are of one accord in welcoming a very powerful image of emptiness, the image of the empty tomb – the great sign of God’s power over every evil and even over death itself.
The tomb may have been empty, but the world would be forever filled with the power that the empty tomb represents – the power of the resurrection. Quite often, we have the tendency to think of this day in only one way and that is that Easter simply means that we now can hope for eternal life with God when our earthly lives have ended.
We think of Easter as only related to our great hope of life yet to come in the future, after we have passed on to the beyond. And there is truth in making that claim. Easter is certainly about that, and we should not underestimate what that means for each of us and for humanity as a whole. Jesus has truly reconciled us to the Father, and because of that, we have an opportunity to dwell with and in God, forever.
Early last week, our granddaughter Kloey said something funny, especially at her age, when she tried to reason out with us over something we told her she couldn’t have. She got what would have been her Easter dress but as it turned out, it was rather small for her. So just as she was about to try it on, we told her she couldn’t have it. It won’t fit her. But she didn’t want any of that logic. She held on it and said: “I know, BUT…”, and then she proceeded to say her piece. “But I have to wear it!”
Similarly, we could disagree with the common future-oriented view of Easter and say: “I know. But” We know Easter alludes to the end-times BUT, it so much more. “I know, but …” Easter ought not to be confined just to that which is yet to come. It has a lot to do with the present. It has a lot to say to where we are and how we live our life.
The power of the resurrection is not something that only impacts our lives at the end. Rather, it’s a power that is at work right now. And this power, this great triumph over sin and death represented by the empty tomb, has the ability to fill all the emptiness inside of us – the wounds, the brokenness, the sorrow, and even sin. Through the Holy Spirit, the power of the resurrection has been unleashed to the world, ready to transform darkness into light; transform despair into hope.
The power of the resurrection transforms humanity’s disappointment and daily “deaths” into possibility and something that’s filled with life. The power of the resurrection brings about new life – a whole new way of being, a paradigm shift on how we view whatever comes our way as we make our journey through life.
The power of the resurrection, the power revealed by the empty tomb, can make an unbelievable difference — a life-changing difference for each of us if and this is a big if, if we are willing to change. And not just if we are willing to change, but more importantly, if we actually want to change, long for it, and, are sincerely open to it.
God wants to transform our lives into lives of even greater beauty, meaning and purpose. He wants to transform us into people who see and care like He does. He wants to transform us into a community who love like he loves. When we subject ourselves to this transformation and invite the power of God’s saving act to penetrate our hearts and minds, everything will be different.
But make no mistake about what I’m saying as though Easter and the power of the Resurrection is some kind of a magic potion. Even if we allow ourselves to be transformed into people God created us to be, we will not be free of the struggles of this life. Every one of us will still experience obstacles, failures, and disappointments. We will still encounter sorrow and heartache. And yes, each of us will someday die.
But none of those things can get the best of us – not even death itself. The victory has been won and because of it our difficulties in this life can be resurrected and created anew.
That’s what Easter is also about, each of us allowing God’s saving power to turn every difficulty and cross we have to carry in this life into an Easter moment, an experience in which God’s love, mercy, and compassion triumph over whatever we’re going through.
My dear friends in Christ, heaven is not just something we long for in the future. In many ways it already began for us at our baptism, through the power of the Holy Spirit, when each of us was united to our Lord Jesus in a profound way. And therefore, in a certain sense, heaven is something we can begin to experience right now, in this time and place, whenever we allow the power of the resurrection help us experience life in a whole new way, as new creations – seeing, acting, and loving as God does.
Empty tomb? “I know, but …” it doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
My prayer then for us is for the emptiness in each of us to be filled by every good thing that God offers, not just this Easter day, but every day – every time we need the power of the resurrection to make a real and lasting difference in our lives.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!