- April 16, 2017
- 09:00 AM
Sermon for Holy Pascha April 15/16, 2017 (Year A)
Offered by Nathan Ferrell at The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary
Texts: Colossians 3:1-11; Psalm 118; Matthew 28:1-10
Title: Revealed with Him in Glory
Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).
Oh, my dear friends, my beautiful friends! Welcome to this joyous feast, to this wonderful celebration. Finally, our Lenten fast is over and the time has come to feast and celebrate.
Because Christ is risen, now the gates of death are ripped open, and we are free!
Everything now has changed in the world. The balance between death and life has been altered forever. Because Christ is risen, nothing will ever be the same.
How amazing! How glorious! How wonderful beyond all understanding!
And yet…for all of this, today is a mysterious celebration. It is a hidden feast, and most do not see it at all.
If all of these things that we say about the resurrection are true, then why is it that only some celebrate the raising of the Lord on this day? And why does Colossians say that our new life is now hidden with Christ in God?
If this Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, the Liberator of all humanity, the One who IS all and IN all, then how is it that ALL do not see him and know and love him?
Because, my friends, to see in this way is a special gift.
Do you remember the massive earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan on March 11, 2011? It caused nearly 16, 000 deaths and waves that surged up to 70 feet high. The devastation throughout northeast Japan was horrible.
But there was one village in the midst of that region that survived the great earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 without losing a single home. The fishing village of Fudai had a visionary man who served the town for 4 decades as mayor. Mr. Kotoku Wamura was the mayor re-elected to serve 10 terms of 4 years each.
When he was very young, he witnessed a tsunami which destroyed hundreds of homes and killed over 400 people in his village. And he never forgot it.
So, it was Mr. Wamura’s vision to use his tenure as mayor to build protection for his village so that a disaster like that could never happen again. First, he pushed to build a seawall near the ocean that was 51 feet high to protect the primary port area.
But he was convinced that this was not enough, even though everyone else thought he was crazy. Most neighboring towns had built walls that were around 30 to 40 feet tall, so a wall that was 51 feet high seemed more than sufficient.
However, Mr. Wamura insisted that a second wall of the same height of 51 feet must be built closer to the village, to reinforce their defenses.
Somehow, he persuaded the village council to agree. The total construction cost more than $30 million in today’s values, a high price for a village of 4000 people! Even the contractors building the wall scoffed at the idea that a second wall of that size would ever be needed.
Mr. Wamura retired as mayor not long after the second wall was built, and he died in 1997 at the age of 88. He never saw the seawalls used as he had envisioned them.
But he gave a speech to the village when he retired, and in his speech he said this: “Even if you encounter opposition, have conviction and finish what you start. In the end, people will understand.”
Believe me: everyone understands today! His village of Fudai was completely spared. The highest waves of the tsunami were squeezed in Fudai’s narrow cove up to 66 feet high! Some water made it over the wall and into the village, but nothing was destroyed and no one was injured there.
Since the tsunami, many residents have been visiting Mr. Wamura’s grave to pay their respects and to offer their posthumous thanks.
Because this man had a vision inspired by his experience, because this man continued to see something different even when he faced opposition and ridicule from his peers and neighbors, God used this man to save his village.
Now think about this for a moment: why did Mr. Wamura see what others could not see?
He looked at the same village as others, but he saw something different. Because of his experience, he saw a potential reality that others could not see.
Now consider this: why did the two Marys see what others could not see?
There at the empty tomb. The guards could not see it. They shook with fear and fell down like dead men.
And why did the disciples see what others could not see?
Think about it: even in those days when Jesus was raised, most people went on living their ordinary, everyday lives as if nothing happened. The vast majority of humanity woke up on that Sunday morning and carried on with life as usual.
And the truth is that the majority of our friends and neighbors here in Maine are waking up this morning and carrying on with life as usual. They might have thoughts today of eggs and rabbits and flowers – or things like that.
But they most certainly are not thinking of God’s resurrection power and how this has changed the course of history!
Not everyone can see what we see. Not everyone can see the world liberated and see free because of this One raised from the dead.
Remember that Jesus instructed his friends to go back to Galilee. He said, “there they will see me.” Why go back to Galilee? Why did he take his friends back home?
They went back home and met with Christ up on a mountain. It was a hidden meeting, but they would never forget the time that they spent with him.
And because of their experience with Christ, they went out and faced opposition and ridicule and changed the world. Because they saw a new reality that others could not see!
To know the resurrection power of God is a matter of vision, a matter of seeing a reality that others do not see.
It means being baptized into a new self, a renewed image of God in which all people have a share. It makes no difference where you come from or where you were born.
For Christ is risen! He is alive today, and will never die again. Nothing can ever separate us now from the love of God in Christ.
And when Christ is revealed, when our eyes can see him alive in the world today, then we will also be revealed with him in glory.
Then we shall see a new and different reality. And life will never be the same.
The risen Lord met the two Marys along the way and said to them “Greetings! Do not be afraid.” And the women fell down and grabbed his feet and worshipped him.
Why did they do this? Because they loved him.
Do you want to know and experience God’s power at work in your life?
Then fall in love with God, and you will know and experience the resurrection power of God! And you will be able to see a reality different than those around you. And you will become a channel of blessing and hope and new life for others.
So rejoice, my friends, in the gift of insight and vision that we have been given on this day. For Christ is risen, our joy without end. And life will never be the same. Alleluia! Amen.