I have come to believe, in order to live in Central New York, one has to be a person of great faith. Every fall, as we head into winter, we journey forward in faith, trusting that spring will arrive sometime between March 21st and May 30th. This year it has been especially hard to keep the faith as week after week of below average temperatures have made many of us begin to ask if we have entered into another ice age. And yet, somehow, as if on cue, we have finally experienced the first temperate days of spring this week and witnessed the subtle signs that new growth is shooting forth as our lawns and gardens begin to reappear from beneath their icy coverings.
On Thursday, as the sun shone brightly and the air began to warm, I knew it would not be long until the grill would be lit once again and sermon writing would soon commence beneath the shade of our covered porch. Yes my friends, there is good news, the weather is finally transitioning and the dead of winter will soon be transformed to the verdant beauty of spring, and summer days will come alive within the recesses of our imaginations.
As we contemplate the delayed arrival of spring, we gather today to contemplate yet another arrival . . . that of new life, new hope, and new possibility. As we enter into today’s telling of the resurrection, I have often wondered what Mary Magdalene was thinking as she walked from where she was staying inside the walls of Jerusalem to Jesus’ tomb just outside the city gate. While she rationally expected to find Jesus lying where his followers had laid him the previous Friday, I wonder if a part of her allowed herself to even imagine his possibly being alive. Yes, she had packed the spices needed to preserve the body, but I wonder if she imagined what it would be like to find him alive again, as Jesus had promised her. The world will never know.
What we do know, is what she found was unexpected. What we also know is despite seeing the grave linens neatly folded to one side, she still could not allow herself to imagine Jesus being alive. It was only after she heard his voice that she knew the outer reaches of possibility had been breached and the man whose death she had witnessed on Friday was alive again.
Life for Mary and all who witnessed the resurrection would never be the same. Life for them was now transformed, changed, for the outer limits of what they knew to be possible were now possible and they could imagine the Kingdom that Christ had talked about.
This is what the resurrection does for us when we allow it to. The resurrection is meant to transform us by opening up for us the religious imagination. This allows us to see beyond what is humanly possible and know what is divinely possible.
This is what the resurrection did for St. Paul as we heard in his confession to the Corinthians this morning. Paul declares himself an apostle, one who was sent by the living Christ, because of his experience on the road to Damascus. In the book of Acts we are told that It was through his encounter with the resurrection that scales literally fell from his eyes and he saw, understood God, in a new light. No longer did God exist bound by the confines of Torah. No longer was his relationship with God dependent on his keeping of the law, nor his holding others accountable. Instead, through the resurrection he found how God’s love was limitless, and available to all. It was through the resurrection that Paul found a message he knew would change how the world understood who and where God is.
Are we willing to let the resurrection transform our lives? Are we willing to allow the resurrection peel away the scales from our eyes so we can see beyond the possible to the divinely possible? Are we willing to let the hope of new life tell us this world can be a greater and better place? Are we willing to believe in the reign of God and a time when all will walk in the light of God as the darkness of injustice will is vanquished? Are we able to accept that God is more fully divine when we allow the divine to work within us as we seek the divine in others?
This is what the resurrection calls us to do, to do as Mary is commanded by Christ to let go of where we are, of where we feel safe, to look beyond where we came from and to walk into the light of divine possibility. Mary was sent to share the news of the resurrection with the apostles and to bring them into the light of new hope and possibility. We, who are here today, are called to do the same. It does us no good to try to hold onto the resurrection, to try to protect it or God from others. Instead, we like Mary are called to let go, to share what we have learned and what we have seen. . .to tel the world that the limits of what we thought was possible has been breached by God; and now there is new hope, new possibility, and the Kingdom of God is now ours for the making.