Fast enough

Apr. 16, 2017

Acts 10.34-43; Col. 3.1-4; Jn 20.1-18

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! The events of Easter can rush past us so fast and furious...we may miss the true meaning of the event. Just when we think we've got our heads wrapped all around Easter...the meaning of it zips past us. As the famed racecar driver Mario Andretti said, "If everything seems to be under control, you're not going fast enough." With blazing clarity Easter helps us see who we are, where we've come from and where we are going. And it's not something we can gently tiptoe into...it's a reality check that demands our full attention.

So, today I'd like to give you my take on Easter in the short form. Easter is surrounded by mystery, and wonder, and bafflement. Because this event completely upends everything we've ever thought true about life and death and what and who we are as human beings. The message is that when we all reach that point when our loved ones will look on our lifeless bodies ...they will see what we were, but not what we have become through Jesus Christ. As St Paul put it, the resurrection means that, "in Christ we are a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new has come." The body of Jesus was not just resuscitated. No, resurrection is not putting life and breath back into a corpse, but it means a change of everything! Resurrection is a new creation.

Resurrection means...when we have left this body, we become like the proverbial butterfly that has left behind an empty cocoon that once held the precious content of our immortal soul. Easter prepares us for the next stage of life.

Let me explain...about 13 and a half billion years ago, give or take, energy, time, and space came into being...as you know, scientists call it the "Big Bang". Then after that, matter and energy began to build into atoms, then molecules, and even more complex structures were born through chemistry. Then, almost 4 billion years ago, our planet Earth came into being and through biology even more intricate organic molecules became organisms. And 6 million years ago, "a single female ape gave birth to two daughters. One became the ancestor of all chimpanzees, the other is our own grandmother"...those are the words of Yuval Noah Harari from his best-selling book, Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. And he says, 70,000 years ago, a new species of organisms, called Homo sapien, (meaning "smart man") came into being. We Homo sapiens became more advanced and we created tools and cultivated plants and animals to sustain our lives. And about 500 years ago we began to revolutionize our place in the universe that allow us to do things like heal hideous diseases and send a craft to Mars, another planet in our solar system...as I said, it's fast and furious. And Easter represents the next step in our evolution as human beings. God has shown the way. So, what's next? I'd say, the exploration of the spiritual universe.

Dr. Eben Alexander, who is a practicing neurosurgeon at the University of Virginia was afflicted with bacterial meningitis, and when his family was advised to turn off life supports because his brain activity showed no life at all, but suddenly he just woke up. As a scientist he'd always thought that people who'd had near death experiences and returned with an afterlife story...were actually just dreaming in their delirium...but when he looked at his own EEG reports, there was no brain activity. In his near death experience he found himself crawling through mud like an "earthworm," but he was lifted out of the muck to cosmic places with the help of a spiritual friend who knew him. This has happened to so many people, these beings are called "greeters". Dr. Alexander had been a doubter of life after death, but as a doctor and one who has experienced death, he said he believes the Christian account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is humankind's next step forward in evolution. Baffling as it is, the Nobel winning nuclear physicist Niels Bohr said, "The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth my well be another profound truth." Here's one for you: we will be raised with Christ. That's the gospel truth.

We are born into this life as a part of God's continuing creation, God guides us to the Kingdom, and God will retrieve the essential material and spiritual parts of all of us from the four corners of the earth to make us whole. As the Anglican priest and poet John Donne expressed it so wonderfully, "Where are all the splinters of bone...all the atoms of flesh, which (have blown away)? In what wrinkle, or furrow...lie all the grains of ashes of a body burned a thousand years ago? The dust is blown into the river, and the river to the sea, (which) ebbs and flows in infinite revolutions, and still, still, God knows...in what part of the world every (essential part) of every man and woman lies. (And at God's moment) God will whisper, (God) will beacon for...his saints, and in the twinkling of an eye, that (resurrection) body that was scattered over all the (earth), will be sat down at the right hand of God in a glorious resurrection." Just as God has numbered the hairs of our heads and knows every planet and sun around which they circle in the vast cosmos of space...God will in the end call out all of our names to step forward into the resurrection life and it will happen in God's good time. Amen.


The Reverend WA Ray
St Thomas Church

Diamondhead, MS
4/16/17