A Sermon Delivered at The Great Vigil of Easter
April 12, 2020
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
“The Resurrection Brings About Change”
I had a most profound conversation with a friend that past week, and we discussed that fact that whenever we see the other side of this period of isolation and quarantine due to COVID19. Things will not be same. Our communities, churches, schools, families, nation and world will look and operate totally differently. Everything has changed and will change in a most dramatic way.
Think about it, this is the first time for so many that they have not been in church on Easter Day. Some of you might be saying, “You know, Father, I kind of like this being able to stay at home and have an extra cup of coffee, turning over in bed a few more times, or watching you on the screen in my comfy pajamas.”
Indeed, everywhere we turn, it seems that change is in the air. But change is not simply relegated to the structures and institutions of our common life. We can see it in our attitudes, our expectations, and our assumptions.
Our gospel reading this morning is a perfect example of this.
The reading says, Mary turned around – and when she did -
she saw not a gardener but she saw Jesus standing there.
It was a CHANGE that she didn’t expect.
Once she hears him say her name, she recognizes him instantly.
My friends, Easter is being willing to let God come into our lives and turn our lives around.
Easter is turning “CHANGING” our will and our lives over to the care of God and letting him lead us out of the tomb of our existence.
God asks us to stop looking backwards – stop crying over the past and over the pain.
“Let go - turn around” he says – and when we do - we meet Jesus standing right where we are.
That my friend is what we call faith! We need at lot of faith in the midst of the fearful and foreboding situation we find ourselves in today.
Faith comes when we open our hearts and we enter into a new personal relationship with the Risen Jesus.
And the faith and the trust that we put in him, God will honor and he won’t ever let us down; just as God honored Jesus’ faith and didn’t let him down – but, instead – he raised him up on that first Easter morning.
Resurrection is all about CHANGE. Beginning again.
The Greek word for change or repentance is metanoia related to the word metamorphosis.
That's the Easter story. That’s our story.
That which looked to all the world like failure and death – put in God’s hands has become new life.
Turn around and look not so much with our eyes – but with our hearts see how God has done for us what we could never do for ourselves.
Each and every one of us – is a miracle back from the dead.
God’s raised us up and brought us into a new life with him.
A life he now asks us to go out and to share with all our brothers and sisters – especially the ones still stuck in their tombs, the ones still sheltering in place, the ones still having to observing physical distancing.
Like the women at the tomb, in a sense, we run from this place, back to our everyday lives, ready to face whatever comes our way. We go forth to the world --the weak, the poor, the frightened, the hopeless to share the good news that, the Lord has risen.
The Lord has risen indeed! The Lord has risen in us!
~Fr. Joseph C. Alsay