In Touch – March 29, 2013
Posted on March 29, 2013 by under Touché,

 The First Words of Easter

Tonight Mark will close off our Lenten series on the Seven Last Words of the Cross with the word: “It is finished”.  I have really enjoyed the different perspectives of different preachers on these words, but mostly I have enjoyed the beauty of the Bible in paying attention to each word and the connections that are made in each expression.  The Bible is like no other book in the sense of the life, breath and beauty that comes from it.  Last Sunday we looked at the last word: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” and saw that this prayer from Psalm 31 was probably the first bedtime prayer that Jesus learned.  This was an insight that I had not considered before and revealed once again the power that is in scripture as we continue to appreciate all the ways it breathes.

Having looked at the last words from the cross, I was intrigued by the first words of Easter that Jesus spoke. The first word that Matthew records is Jesus saying: “Greetings.”  This is not a spectacular word or a religious word.  It is a simple “hello.”  I would expect something much more dramatic.  In John, Jesus is so unspectacular that Mary assumes him to be the gardener. (Commentators have noted this is not a bad assumption for the one who is restoring a fallen creation to the first creation, when God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve.)  The angels are dramatic and the stone rolling is dramatic, but Jesus is markedly not dramatic in his resurrection.  It is a beautiful understatement of scripture when we would want so much more.  Jesus continually surprises and confounds as he comes to us.  After twenty seven years of preaching Easter sermons, scripture still is fresh and new every moment.

Our country has been captured by the Bible this Lent.  As the mini- series has run on the History Channel, many people are talking about the Bible.  I was interviewed by the Poughkeepsie Journal for their annual Easter story. John Davis started the interview by saying: “Because of the Bible series, there seems to be a great interest in religion right now.”  I think that the Bible series is good because it is getting people talking about the Bible, but I must confess I prefer the book to the movie.  There is no way that the beauty and the nuance can be expressed in a mini-series. My guess is that they will have a radiant glowing Jesus that comes forth from the tomb, low budget Hollywood with a halo.  I tried to get a sneak preview of the final episode, but History Channel’s technology would not work for me.  I will have to wait to see if my predictions are true.

I hope Jesus surprises you this year and that the Bible ( the book, not the movie) will be embedded in your life with the richness and wonder of the words of Jesus, plain and profound, still changing lives.

Christ the Lord is risen.  He is risen indeed. Alleluia!