Easter Sunday 2010 – Why would you look for the living among the dead?


Luke 24: 1-12

They knew where to go didn’t they?   The women that is
Despite the fact that the gospels tend to suggest that they were unreliable
They knew where to go and look

It tells us at the end of the crucifixion story that we heard on Friday:
“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph
and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.
Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes”

So they knew where to go.   Then this morning’s reading kicks in
Then, on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,
the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

Maybe it is a bit to tell us that the women didn’t make a mistake
and go to the wrong tomb.    
But I have a feeling there’s more to it than that.
There is always more to Easter and resurrection that we immediately think.

Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Why – The answer is obvious.  Because they know where to look.
They know what has gone on and they know where it is that they will find him.
But he is not there.   He’s gone.
And if you had paid attention, you would have heard it.   Remember?

I wonder who those two gleaming white characters were.
They were rather rude.
Why would you look for the living among the dead?

I watched a movie with our family the other night – “The Invention of Lying”
A quirky little romance with a satirical twist about Christianity at the same time.
And I wondered while it was on, why I was finding it a bit annoying?
In the plot, the movie created this image of God as the “man in the sky”
who created all good things and all evil things as well
and if you live well enough and don’t do too many really bad things
you would end up having a great mansion to live in forever after you die.

It occurred to me yesterday why I found the movie annoying.
“Why would you look for the living among the dead?”

We think we know where to look, because we saw him get placed there
We might think that we know that we can find God in a man in the sky like that
who hands out eternal ice creams as long as you aren’t too bad
because we saw him get put there every year around Christmas time
and we hear him get put there too often at funerals

But he is not there.
And if we look there, we will be wandering around in a graveyard
Why look for the living among the dead.

All too often we are used to walking around in graveyards
and looking deeply into places of death.
We become well practised at it.

We will keep living in places of pain because they have developed some hold on us
We will keep living in places of grief because it is too scary to face the places beyond
We keep practising habits which are slowly killing our body, mind or spirit
     because … in fact we don’t really know why if we are honest

And we find it frustrating, annoying, and even shattering
when we feel that God is somehow missing as we live in our pain, our grief and our habits
Why would you look for the living among the dead?

But the frustrating thing about Luke’s resurrection story –
At least the bit that we heard this morning –
is that these two gleaming men don’t actually get around to telling the women where he IS
It’s just that it wont be in the place of the dead.

In one sense I hope you are not here to discover the risen Christ
Because there is the risk that as we gather today
we could be bringing our spices and our flowers to decorate the body
because we know where we are supposed to be looking.

If we come with that intention,
I have a feeling that two men in gleaming white might have something to say to us today.
I hope instead we are coming to celebrate and give thanks
     for the fact that we have indeed come across the living among the living.

On Friday, at the end of the service, with the enormous mountain of bread that was here
we put it in shopping trolleys and out for anyone to take.
And while we set up for Easter Sunday, several families came by
and took it.   Lots.   With great excitement.
You could see it was going to make a difference for them,
and they didn’t have to ask, and they didn’t have to beg and they didn’t have to pay.
And resurrection happened a couple of days early.

Don’t take your devotion to the tomb of where you last saw him
and where you just KNOW he has to be
or else you might just find the words of two smart arse men in gleaming white
ringing in your ears:
Why would you look for the living among the dead?

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