Acts 10: 34-43
John 20: 1-18
If you are a regular attendee to worship, and eagerly looked forward to Easter service, or even if you have never attended an Easter worship service, or if you only attend church on special Sunday’s such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas, to all of us, this Easter is like none any of us has ever experienced.
Gone and not present are the colorful Easter baskets, the bright colored clothing, and the giggling and laughter of young children anxiously awaiting an Easter egg hunt, little boys dressed up, and somewhat uncomfortable in their new clothes, and sisters and cousins in new dresses and shoes, and bright hair ribbons.
Church sanctuaries are eerily empty, on what is the most important day of worship in the Christian world our chapels, sanctuaries, temples, cathedrals and houses of worship are silent and empty physically only.
They are empty not by some government fiat solely, but also out of concern for furthering the presence of life, not just for our neighbors, but family, friends and ourselves.
So as Christ Jesus taught us before his crucifixion “…to love the LORD our God, with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength, and likewise we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”, our not gathering in our places of worship on this particular Easter Sunday to worship this action should and ought to be understood as an act of love and collective sacrifice.
Therefore, our not gathering or being in the physical presence of each other should in no way be construed nor implied as a lessoning or diminishing of who and what we are. We after all are the people of God, the body of Christ Jesus, the called out, the gathered, or as the ancient Greeks termed the faithful adherents and followers of Christ Jesus, we’re the “Ecclesia,” the collective congregation of Faith.
There is no defining of who and what we are, predicated solely on a building, or locale. We are more than that, through our love of God, it is our faith that begins to determine and shape us.
It is the love of God that made all of us, and we walk by faith, not by sight. Our eyes were not there to witness Christ Jesus’ death on the cross at Golgotha, nor were we there for our ears to hear Jesus ask Mary Magdalene at that empty tomb over two-thousand years ago, “Woman why are you weeping, whom are you looking for?”
Shaken hope, a somewhat faltering faith, Mary Magdalene still came looking for a dead body, the body of a dead Christ Jesus that fateful morning. Sadly today so many in our community, some even in our own families look at the church visualize and think like Mary did, the body of Christ, the ecclesia is dead, why go there, the body has died.
But again like Mary, those who see and think the body of Christ Jesus to be dead, they’ve not been asked with words touched, filled and dripping with the love of God, found in Christ Jesus-“Why are you filled with such sorrows and emptiness, what are you looking for, what are you seeking in your life?”
The hope of God, the love of God, and most assuredly the faith we have in God is not fully contained and restricted to our building, the body of Christ is alive, the Ecclesia is not dead, it is not in the grave, just as alive as Jesus was when Mary heard Jesus call her name.
Jesus is calling you today, maybe you can’t hear it over and through the noise you have in your life, but if you get to that place, that time when and where you can listen, I mean really listen and hear not just with your ears, but also with your heart, mind and spirit, that you’re being called by the love, peace assurance and presence of God to further bless you and others in your life, for a blessed you is a blessing to those who are a part of your life.
So as Mary who went looking for a dead body of Christ Jesus found that he had risen, and that there was life in a seemingly hopelessly, fatal situation, Jesus instructed Mary but to go, go and tell others;
A church is a building, the ecclesia is the congregation, that’s us, the people, and we’re to go not solely and plainly into the church, but into all the world, into our communities and speak with words wrapped with the love of God, that our risen Lord lives, and we have hope, we have our faith, and Easter, this Easter though we may not gather in our building, we’re still God’s people.
So as I close I leave you with these words, “Have hope over despair, Faith over your fears, and know that it is Easter, everyday day for people of God, the faithful, the ecclesia, “WE shall be victorious, evilness, viruses, wickedness and sin shall not always win! Our LORD is not, and shall not be defeated; Whose report shall you believe? The LORD our God, has neither abandoned, nor forsaken us. We once were just a people, but now thanks be to the LORD we God’s people. We stand on solid ground, all other is sinking sand.”
WE HAVE HOPE, WE HAVE OUR FAITH, IT’S EASTER, Halleluiah He is risen, He is risen indeed. ….” Amen