A Sermon delivered on The Feast of Resurrection: Easter Day
April 12, 2020
Colossians 3:1- 4 & Matthew 28:1-10
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“Empty is a Good Thing?”
I believe all of you would have to agree that for most of us, we’ve just come through the most difficult Lent and Holy Week. Trying to deal with the stresses in our lives even when we take in the problems of the world. Most of us have a hard time stopping, standing still and breathing.
In the seventies Jackson Browne sang a song, “Running on Empty.” In the song he’s trying to leave the past behind, but he’s running on empty. There is nothing, nowhere to go.
Or as the lyric put it: “Everyone I know, everywhere I go/ People need some reason to believe/ I look around for the friends that I used to turn to, to pull me through/ Looking into their eyes I see them running too/ Running on – running on empty.”
On Friday night our worship space was bare. Empty, Void. But, we needed that empty place to know what this morning means. To get down to what is truly important and worthy. What is of the utmost importance. That’s each and everyone of us, who have been made in the image of God.
Because, far too often if the truth be told, we carry around a lot of baggage: the losses, disappointments, frustrations and sorrows that take up space within us. “Baggage” is the word that use to describe the human condition we are in.
In the midst of this most trying time, we have learned again the profound truth: you’ve got to pass through some empty tombs and empty places on the way to resurrection.
The human heart is like an infinite abyss. So wrote mathematician, philosopher and physicist Blaise Pascal about 350 years ago. In vain we try to fill our hearts with all kinds of things. But only God can fill that void, he wrote.
Most of us spend way too much time looking at electronic screens – television screens, cell phone screens, computer screens. But for a minute, push “off.” Shake the screen. Unplug the cord. Could it be that empty is actually a gift?
For writers it is an empty screen or a piece of paper waiting for words and image. For musicians it is a blank piece of staff paper awaiting notes and rests. For artists it is empty canvas waiting to be filled with color. For all of us it is a new day and everything that means. The rest of the story is yet to be written.
I suppose a blank “etch a sketch” screen would be one way to say it. A more ancient phrase is “tabula rasa,” a blank slate. We are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. Every day we die to sin and rise to new life. Every new day we are given a tabula rasa.
The baggage is deleted.
The tomb is empty. Christ is risen. Death no longer has dominion over us.
And before us is the greatest gift we could ever hope for: another chance.
The risen Christ comes among us this morning.
Filling our empty spaces.
Soothing our empty hearts.
Energizing us with creativity and passion to fill our empty world with art and music, with justice and compassion, with love and kindness. Christ comes not only to our minds, but also to our hearts, and our spirits.
I recently saw a sign which said, “Due to the outbreak of Covid19, our church building is like the Jesus tomb--Empty.” How true that is. The tomb is empty. The church those who are the “called out ones” are gone and have left the building. But you know that’s not a bad thing and “Thanks be to God”, our hearts are not empty – because now we see a new world filled with the possibility of his endless love.
Empty never looked so good.
~Fr. Joseph C. Alsay
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.