Who would've believed? Mary Magdalene shows up at Peter and John's door with the greatest claim in human history. How could they not run to see for themselves that the Master wasn't there? Peter and the disciples were afraid, ashamed, lost. Their Master had been killed in the most gruesome and violent way. The Man who walked on the sea, calmed the storms, fed the 5000, cured the sick and raised the dead couldn't save himself from the hands of evil men. How could this be? All these questions in their heads and now Mary shows up with this claim that the Lord isn't in his tomb? How could they not run?
We gather this morning to celebrate a Jewish carpenter rising from the dead. It is the greatest claim in human history and yet the center of our faith. Last night at the Easter Vigil, before I sang the Easter proclamation, darkness enveloped this church and the only light was from that long Paschal Candle which represents Christ and his light slowly filling our lives and this church. (I've always said, if you've never been to the Easter Vigil, please move it up on your bucket list for it is the night of nights.) During the Easter Proclamation, I sang "Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy…” And boy did this holy building shake with joy as we sang the Gloria. We gathered in darkness waiting for light, waiting for Light himself, waiting for the small flicker of light to overcome the darkness of our lives. Christ is risen! Nothing else matters. This is why this building shook. This is why we gather in the light of Easter morning. Christ is risen indeed. For Mary, for the disciples, and for us, nothing will ever be the same. Light has finally overcome the power of darkness. The Resurrection, God’s greatest work, was a work of mercy. Instead of taking vengeance on mankind for killing his only Son, He freed mankind from sin and death and gave us the gift of immortality. How can we ever doubt his love for us?
Yet in our fallen state, we doubt. We let darkness overwhelm us, seduce us, trap us, and we forget about this love, this light. Last night, right before the Easter Vigil began, a firefighter friend of mine texted me. He was in a dark place. He had just witnessed some gruesome, something fatally gruesome while on duty and felt that he could not overcome the darkness that he was feeling. It was about 90 minutes until the Vigil began and I told him to get to any Vigil in town immediately so he could experience for himself during that beautiful, divine liturgy Christ’s light overpowering the darkness of the night and overpowering the darkness in our lives. He couldn’t make it last night and he was on duty today, but his last text was a sign of hope, a sign of light slowly entering his life again: “I’m on shift [on Easter]. I thank God for this career. To be able to to help the community on the day the Lord conquered death!” I could see the light in his generous heart even through our texts. Yes there is great darkness in our world, but we have been called to be those flickers of light just like all the candles that lit up this church last night. We have a message to share. We have a wondrous story to tell. We have light to spread through a dark world. As Christians, we have a singular purpose, a singular mission: to tell this story just as Mary did on that first Easter morning. Christ has truly risen. Light has overcome darkness and sin. Nothing else matters.