Easter is Big! We pull out all the stops on Easter Sunday. The music, the lessons, the communion, the preaching (God willing), even the congregation is big. It is a big and joyful day. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! We are taken up in the truth that nothing, not even death, can thwart the all-inclusive love and mighty power of God made known to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Sovereign and Savior. Nothing!
Yes, Easter Sunday is Big! The Monday after Easter is not so big. Back to work, back to school, back to a Monday night Church Council meeting, back to the routines that bring order and constancy to our lives. Personally, Easter is so big I have a hard time figuring out what it means, much less how to fit it into my life. I do find it helpful, though, to remember that Easter didn’t start out so big. The women who first encountered the empty tomb told a story so bizarre the other disciples thought they were nuts. Rumors were spread that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body to appear as though he had been raised from the dead. And, when the disciples did experience the resurrection of Jesus they were too afraid to spread the news. No, Easter didn’t start out big.
I believe the Resurrection of Jesus Christ changes the course of history. Not all at once in big and loud ways, but in ways subtle and true and mysterious and bright and loving and powerful. It changes the world, and you and me, in ways profound, abiding and life-saving. But what if Mary and the others had waited a day or two to share their news? What if the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 13:13-35) had not asked the stranger to have supper with them? What if, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), one person had been turned away from the newly formed body of Christ, the Church? What if? Where would we be, who would we be today?
There is a little ditty attributed to both the English metaphysical poet, George Herbert (1593-1633), and our own Benjamin Franklin, with slight variance: “For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost, for want of a rider the message was lost, for want of a message the battle was lost, for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.” What if the farrier, the person who cares for horses’ hooves, had driven the nail 1/8 of an inch deeper into the horse’s hoof? How different would history have changed?
Similarly, through subtle and almost imperceptible acts the Good News of Jesus Christ becomes big! Who knows how an act of compassion will affect the course of history? Who knows how giving someone a ride will change the world? Who’d of thought the anguished cries of teenagers in south Florida would engender a movement? Who would have predicted that a woman hearing a story would say to herself and others: “Me too.” Who’d imagine that standing up to a bully – in the neighborhood, at school, in the workplace, in public or in office – would reveal the power and the glory of Jesus Christ, whom God raised from the dead? Who would have thought?
Easter is big, really big! The event it celebrates saves us and all creation from sin and the fear of death, freeing us to serve the God of Love in joy and love, with all hopefulness. Yes, Easter is big, and yet it comes to us in small and unimaginably powerful ways: a crazy story, an invitation to supper and an inclusive hospitality; through acts of compassion, recognizing the needs of others, and in standing up to bullies larger and small the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ changes the world for good.
In the hopeful expectation of the coming realm of Jesus Christ,