Here we are outside under a ceiling of sky, in the fresh air, together praising God. It’s like a picnic, sort of… in that we have to lug our own chairs out here. Hopefully yours isn’t sinking into the mulch.
Seeing you reminds me of the Holy Land. We are a pilgrims’ parish who travel there about every two years. I am thinking of a spot in particular we go to near Capernaum. We take a bus to the top of a hill and then hike down to a vista that cascades to the sea of Galilee. It is beautiful, looking out onto a part of the world so epically captured in Holy Scripture…ground Jesus walked on. And we sit there on rocks, and break bread, and eat it, just like Jesus did. And that is what we’re going to do here, today, as well.
Now if I could send you home with one Easter message, one thing to remember, it is that Resurrection is the exclamation point on creation. God made all this stuff, God made it good. And then God made something even better: a creature, an earth creature, Adama is the Hebrew word (a gender-neutral word, I might add). God made people, and God made them very good indeed. God made the way they walk good, and if they can’t walk that is good as well. God made the way they laugh good, whether it is loud or staccato(ie) or contagious. God made the way they sing fabulous. God made the way they throw a frisbee good, even if they can’t throw a frisbee, it is good. God made who they love good, and what their preferences are in another person, good. God made the way they look, and the way they talk, and the way they think, and the way they sit in their chair, good. God even made the way they chew their food, good, even if it bugs you… it is good.
You see, how somebody else is, how somebody else is made, is not about you or me, it is about God, and how God made them, and that God made them very well, because God loves them. And what that means is that each person, in this way, in their own way, is a blessing, never a sin; never something to be ashamed of, because there are no accidental people. God never makes a mistake. There are no people that are born flawed. If you are here, you are perfectly crafted as you are by God, and Resurrection is the exclamation to that point.
Remember the story of the man born blind in the Gospel of John? Jesus’ disciples asked him: “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s work might be revealed through him” (John 9:2-3). If you were born you were born with intentionality, so, that God’s works might be revealed through you.
And so, Preach (you might be wondering) why are saying all of this on Easter Sunday? And I’ll tell you: because you’re here, and there’s even some of you that don’t come on a regular basis, and that’s fine, it doesn’t matter, you can come whenever you want to come, you are always welcome at Epiphany… But, I want you to hear this: You were made well by God. And I want you to also hear this: There are some churches out there that don’t believe that, and I need you to know there are also churches out there that know how awesome you are, including this one, the one you’re at this Easter Sunday. You were made very well by God, just the way you are. Resurrection punctuates that point.
Too often it is the Church itself, the institution claiming to be the Body of Christ, claiming to be the spokesperson for Jesus, claiming to be the living actions of the Trinity in the world, that speaks and acts like not all people are born blessings. And if that’s ever been said to you, or if you’ve had a feeling that a Church is suspect of someone like you, then know that that church is wrong, not you, and not God. You were made very good indeed. Resurrection punctuates that point!
If you have ever been harmed or blamed or violated or accused of causing someone to do something to you that is unfair or unfavorable or untoward or impolite or offensive because of how you dress, or how you look, or the job you hold, or the language you speak, or because of your gender or sexuality, or because of what you do to make a living, or because of who you love, or who you marry; if you have ever experienced this contempt or seen it inflicted on someone like you, and some church seems to support that point of view, then let me be clear: that church is wrong, not you and not God. You were made very good indeed. Resurrection punctuates that point.
And what did God make when God made you? A body, your body, you are a body, and so am I. The body is the means by which we connect to the world. The body is the means by which we move through the world. The body is the vehicle through which your will is expressed, and your love is shared, and your relationships are experienced. It is bodies that sit together on a crest of the hill as we are together, today. If there weren’t so many houses in the way, this wouldn’t be all that different than where we sat overlooking the Sea of Galilee, only for us it is Lake Washington down the hill.
We’re sitting here as bodies, in relationship, made for relationship. And that makes sense, because our God is a relational God, a God with bodies, one of which we are capable of understanding and interpreting because it is a body like our bodies, it is the body of Jesus. That’s a real body, a real person that walked the face of this earth 2000 years ago, made by God with intention and purpose and love. And you are no different than Jesus.
I know sometimes it can be challenging to think of ourselves as no different than Jesus. He was the second person of the Trinity – you are not. He never sinned – you have; but, in reality, we are closer to being like Jesus than we think.
At this church, we study the life of Jesus to understand his actions and his teachings, so that we can learn how to apply them into the context of our time, and to our life. And the question we ask is simple: “What would Jesus do?” with the caveat: “if he had my life or your life?” And the question is simple: “What would Jesus do if he had my life or your life? If he had the job I have, in the family I was born into, or the family I chose…What would Jesus do, if he were me or you?”
Our bodies are no different than the fleshy, physical body that Jesus had. Jesus experienced suffering and struggle, like we do. Jesus experienced togetherness and friendship, like we do. Jesus employed mercy and charity and love, like we do. And Jesus always did God’s will, and so can we. Jesus never broke relationship with God, and so can we. Jesus taught with his body, forming words and doing deeds with his body, made by God, so, God’s works might be revealed through him. And you and I are no different than that.
Today, we are celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the permanent punctuation of the goodness of the human body as it was made to be in relationship with all other human bodies. That is the point of Resurrection; God’s body back in the world available to all people, in all places, over all time in a way we can know, connect with and understand.
God came back not as a conqueror or king, but simply to be present for all who wish, who choose, to be in a relationship with God. And how we do that? Well, that gets right back to the body-To love God we care for our neighbors in word and deed, through actions.
As we begin to move into a post-pandemic world, we see pockets where people have been forgotten-and that must change. We see how family and marriage and identity have been diminished-and that must change. We see stereotypes formed and reinforced, demeaning and in some cases, wounding and even killing based on a perversion of perspective-and that must change.
These are all matters of the body, and if the body is made very good by God, then as followers of Jesus, we have a mission to use these bodies to respect and protect and care for the bodies we share this good creation with… and by doing so, we are owning the exclamation of Resurrection!
So, today as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as we celebrate moving back to a more normal way of being together, we remember: the Resurrection of Jesus is about his body. And in him we see our own bodies, and through our bodies we see and know and acknowledge our neighbors’ bodies, knowing that they too were made very good by God.
Resurrection punctuates that point. It is the exclamation point on creation. That is Good news indeed.