When my brother, sister and I were children, we thought holidays were awesome. You were hard pressed to keep us in bed after five in the morning because of our excitement. Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Birthdays…it didn’t matter. We would wake up early and sneak into each others’ rooms to talk, play, read books and wait. Wait for when mom would ring the sleigh bell tapestry that hung on the door of the coat closet signaling to us that we could come out. And then she would step back and let her three-child-stampede rush down the hallway. We were full of joy and optimistic anticipation.
During this Easter season, we have entered a period of anticipation and hope. We hope for salvation because of the sacrifice of someone important, someone who walked into the Garden of Gethsemane and told God “not my will but yours be done.” As one of our sacred creeds proclaim, “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried”.
From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, the story is a rather simple one. Jesus enters Jerusalem in celebration on Palm Sunday only to be crucified by the same eager crowd Friday afternoon. During the three days of profound grief, all seemed hopeless. We read in John’s gospel that Mary Magdalene was beside herself in grief and the eleven surviving disciples had locked themselves away in fear. For three days, these followers of Jesus lived not knowing what would become of them and some even doubted their master because of how easy his messiah-ship had ended. Surely, some of them thought, God would have saved Jesus from the excruciating beating he took and the awful brutal way he died.
But on the third day, everything changed.
Mary finds herself before a corpse-less tomb and the disciples find themselves once more in the company of their beloved master. End of movie, roll the credits right? But that’s not the end of the Easter story.
Not this movie and not this story.
This was just the beginning. Jesus is only back for a short period of time. He said as much when he told the still stunned disciples that as the Father has sent him, he was sending them to carry on with his ministry. Then he returns to Heaven to prepare for the next step of his own story.
Every week here at St. Mary’s during the celebration of the Eucharist there is a statement of mystery that we boldly and jubilantly proclaim: Christ has died. Christ is Risen. And Christ will come again. Christ did die on the cross and He is risen from the tomb. Christ has done this, Christ is doing this and Christ will continue to do this.
So, now we wait.
While we await the second coming of our Lord and Savior – in whatever form that will take – do we just prop up our feet and twiddle our thumbs until he gets here? We can’t, Jesus makes it clear that we have work to do. Like the disciples, we have an obligation to preach the good news of the gospel to those around us.
When the disciples were later arrested preaching Jesus’ message as is recorded in the Book of Acts, they faced a dilemma: abandon their master’s mission and deny him again or to take a stand. When they told the high priest “We must obey God rather than any human authority”; they made that stand. It is far easier to remain silent than to speak in faith.
Like those apostles before us, we have to ask ourselves a very serious question: do we back down from Jesus’ Great Commission? Do we deny our Savior and not take care of those that need the good news?
When others watch us, this can be a difficult question. It can be difficult act to obey God. But at the end of the day, we have been given a task and that task is to spend our time waiting for Jesus by acting like Jesus and preaching his words.
Allowing our actions to reflect our words is imperative because the gospel is a medicine. A single drop can heal a broken soul whether it’s preached through a genuine smile, a kind word, or a small act of service.
We have so many brothers and sisters that are in need of healing. There are some among us today that are struggling with brokenness and through Jesus Christ, we can give them relief. For many of us, we may need it as much as the person we hold out our hand to.
Jesus commanded all of us to preach forgiveness while he prepares for us. If we speak and act with mercy and kindness, we are preaching to others the good news of the gospel, loving each other as ourselves, and accepting the sacrifice that we are unworthy of, but is all the same offered to us; we are proclaiming that very mystery that is both glorious and beautiful.
While my brother, sister and I are no longer small children; we still find thrill in anticipating holidays. We may not get up as early as we once did, but we still sneak into each other’s room with cups of coffee in hand and wait for our time to be with each other.
We as the body of Christ are brothers and sisters and we are awaiting the greatest holiday of all, the return of Jesus of Nazareth. We should anticipate our Savior’s return with child-like excitement. And while we wait, let’s be healers to those who need the Gospel and answer the call of him who gave us our reason to hope and our reason to rejoice. Amen.