The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

Every Morning is Easter Morning

Grace and peace from God our Creator, hope in our Redeemer Jesus the Christ, and the promised gifts of the Holy Spirit are with you, always.

Hallelujah! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!)

We have said and sung it in just about every grammatically possible way. Jesus Christ is Risen Today! Christ is risen, Alleluia! Alleluia, Jesus is Risen! And maybe you feel like we’re a little late to the party because Jesus Christ was risen on Sunday, and this is Wednesday, but, let me tell you—every morning is Easter morning, from now on.

You may have a heard a story about a cheesy song with those lyrics, but, all jokes aside, it’s the truth. We don’t say “Christ was risen” or “Christ has risen” but “Christ is risen” because the resurrection of Jesus the Christ is not limited to a historical moment, but rather is for all time. Jesus Christ is Risen Today, and tomorrow, and the next day. We can sing these songs throughout the entire Easter season, and really every day except for a handful leading up to the celebration of the resurrection, again.

I read a great article on Sojourners, and shared it on Facebook yesterday, called “Christ is Risen. Now What?” It was written by Kaitlin Curtice, a Native American Christian and author. As the title suggests, in it, she asks, “now what?” Now that Easter Sunday has come and gone, what has changed? What did we spend six weeks of Lent in preparation for? I think it helps us to decide how to look forward if we take a second to look back. Back to the very first Easter morning.

As I read this gospel story, and imagine the experience these women had early that morning, I just sort of shake my head in wonder. They had come to the tomb of their friend to do what they would have done if he had died any other way—they had come to mourn and, as it is written in some of the other gospel accounts, bring spices for funeral rituals. But he hadn’t just died, naturally, he had been crucified publicly but the Roman government. Their whole world had turned upside down, and so they sought comfort in the only shred of normal life they could muster, their duty to their friend, even in death. The other disciples were off, secluded somewhere, afraid and unsure. And here’s the thing—it’s hard to blame them! Jesus has been executed by the state, and so it’s not like the political unrest has come to an end after three days. They were probably still in danger. Leaving the relative safety of the place where they are staying in Jerusalem to go out in the dark and visit the tomb—which is guarded by soldiers, remember—absolutely outs them as friends and supporters of this convicted, executed criminal. Who’s to say they won’t meet the same fate? Peter’s denial of being associated with Jesus, while not exactly brave, is pretty easy to understand.

But something brought Mary Magdalene and the other Mary out into the world that morning. I think that thing was hope.

I read a book called Hope in the Dark last month that I am obsessed with. I underlined like half the sentences, and mailed copies to a bunch of friends and pastoral colleagues I hoped could be similarly affected by it. I will get you a copy, if you want. In it, Rebecca Solnit writes not about a shallow or casual hope, but a deep and serious hope. It’s this true hope that led these women out to the tomb that morning. They weren’t hoping that Jesus would be alive, but they were hopeful that life could go on without him. They were hopeful that they could get up and go do the work that he had called them to do, keep the movement going, one day, one step, at a time. “Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.” [1]

The story of Jesus’ resurrection does not have to be a critical dissection of just how it worked, biologically. We can sit here and wonder about how a dead man came to life again, and never get anywhere closer to solving the mystery. I know this question is one that some of you are asking, and it’s a question I ask, too. We talked about this just the other week, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Since we cannot know the historicity of this event, what about it can we know? What does this story tell us about God? Time and time again in our scripture and in our own lives, something that was once dead is alive again. Something that was seemingly hopeless returns, full of possibility. What does this say about the nature of our God, about the persistence of God’s love and liberation? Jesus the Christ was crucified and died, and then, somehow he lived again. The empire put Jesus to death, but his movement and his followers could not be silenced. The message of the gospel is not quieted by fear, is not silenced by death. The message of the gospel is not to be whispered, but shouted.

The story of the women leaving the tomb to tell their friends about Jesus puts this so clearly. “So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy,” it says. There’s a reason that we sing all of our happiest songs for Easter, all the ones with exclamation points in the titles and hallelujahs all over the place. Part of the radical nature of Easter is that, in the midst of political violence and social turmoil, God calls us to bring good news of great joy. “And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” [1]

So, if we circle back to Kristin Curtice’s question--it’s Easter, now what?--have we come to an answer? What do we do, if every morning is Easter morning? Do we go about our lives, quietly? You can, if you want. Or, you can go about your life, as the Easter people, bringing good news of great joy. You can shout HALLELUJAH at all available opportunities. You can rejoice in the knowledge and love of God, you has freed you from the power of sin and death. You can celebrate today, and every day.

In a few moments, we’re going to have the opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants. When you were baptized, if you were baptized, you were baptized into Christ’s death as well as his life. We need not be reminded that there is death in this world, that is thrust before us pretty routinely. But what we do need to be reminded of is that there is life in this world. There is new life in us today because we have heard the story of Jesus’ resurrection and made it part of our own story. We who were dead are alive again. That’s pretty good news.

Be not afraid, sing out for joy! Christ is risen! Hallelujah!

The Acts of the Apostles—A Community in Conversation

Great Expectations—A Sermon on Maundy Thursday