The Nourishing Place

Sermon, April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday

1st Corinthians 3: 16-17 

Today is Easter Sunday.  In our faith tradition, Easter is the holiest day of the year.  It is the day we celebrate the rebirth of Christ as a living spirit.   The word “Easter” has many origins.  One states that the celebration known as Easter goes back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England named Eostre.  She was celebrated at the beginning of spring when the plants of the earth come back to life.   Another theory is that the word “Easter” comes from an older German word for east, which comes from an even older Latin word for dawn.  In spring dawn marks the beginning of days that will outlast the nights, and those dawns appear first in the east.  The word “Easter” meaning a celebration of new life, or the rising of the Christ spirit,  was not used as we know it today until the year 900.   
According to the Biblical Gospel of Mark, the first thing Jesus did when he left the tomb and resumed life, was to take a walk with two friends who did not recognize him.  His first words were “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”  He didn’t say TaDa, here I am….he didn’t say, “hey what happened, I’m supposed to be dead.”  No, what he did and said was to show an interest in two friends.  Isn’t that so like the Christ we have come to know and love...he was and is always more interested in others than self. 
The Bible tells us that at Easter dawn no one was at the tomb to welcome Jesus back from the dead. Three women went to the tomb early on Sunday morning, but their purpose was to anoint Jesus' dead body with burial spices, not to greet him as the Risen Lord. 
Not any of the disciples were expecting Jesus to be raised from the dead. Mark's Gospel makes a point of telling us of the unbelief of the disciples. 
Why is that important? Because it lets us know that the disciples who lived and traveled with Jesus and were close to him were not so different from us. Most of us don't automatically have a resurrection faith just because Easter has become a tradition, in church and in families.  In fact, most of us know details of Easter egg and Easter bunny stories better than we know the true resurrection stories. 
The belief and knowledge that Jesus Christ is alive today, risen from the dead, is the most powerful belief in the world. When we believe in the Risen Christ we have a hope that withstands every disappointment and overcomes every fear. Whenever we are disappointed  or fearful we tend to diminish our belief in the resurrection. We may say that we believe  Jesus rose from the dead, but it may be a belief that is an idea in our heads and not a conviction that dwells in our hearts or in our actions. 
We don’t usually condemn nor criticize people if they don't have a resurrection faith dwelling in their hearts. The disciples didn't start off believing in Easter either. They got to resurrection faith in stages. 
Belief is a journey….it grows from a seed into full flowering, motivating belief.  It first must stay for a while in your mind as a possibility.  As you ponder and consider belief, you realize you can’t describe it, sometimes you can’t even identify it.  But somewhere along the way you know that belief comes through experiences, one after another.  

Everyone’s god is a bit different.  Everyone’s concept of Jesus, especially the risen spirit of Jesus, is a bit different.  You have to experience  and build your own relationship with that inner spirit...the spirit that impacts so much of what you think and say and do. 

Spirit is the same word as breath...our breath keeps us physically alive.  The spirit within us keeps us spiritually alive and aware of ideas, thoughts, experiences beyond the physical, beyond our five physical senses.  Ideas and concepts like love, forgiveness, compassion, and freedom all add meaning and purpose to our lives. Those are spiritual experiences. 

Once he died physically he was no longer limited to one place and time.  His spirit rose and still lives everywhere at any time.  He is not in a tomb, and he is not just and only up in the air somewhere, wherever we think God may be.  So where does that powerful, loving spirit live?  It lives in us.  We, individually and as a church, are the temple where the spirit resides...we are the home of the spirit of the living Christ. 

All the stories about his death and resurrection are mystical, spiritual...for those are what lasts through out time...those are eternal...those are what makes us, our spirits, eternal as well. 

With all the doubts, the questions, the realizations that some things told in the bible are not literal, we can at least put all our faith and hope in the fact that the very spirit that energized Jesus to live and be who he was and is also lives in us.  To deny that is to deny life...your own life.  To believe it and live it is to enrich and energize your life to have a loving and lasting impact on those you love, and even those you don’t love.  It is the greatest gift ever given and it is ours to nourish and share. 

Where did Jesus go when he rose from the dark tomb?  He came to live with you and he gives you light and life and love.  That is Easter...not a one time event but an every day event for those who choose to follow his way of living and loving.


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