the one about celebrating empty...
April 16, 2017, 12:00 AM

Sermon from Easter Sunday
April 16, 2017

Text: Matthew 28: 1-10

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Risen Christ, will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed, alleluia!)

This might be surprising, but I want to talk a bit about emptiness.

For most of us, when we think of emptiness, we think of that which is no more. Or that we’ve runout of a good thing. Perhaps in light of the goings on in the world today your proverbial cup is empty because you just don’t have enough evens to can’t.

And that’s never a good feeling. Whether you’re currently in that spot or you remember a time when you were, it never feels good. You don’t want to be in that space, you desperately want to move from it as fast as you can and never look back.

The Mary’s in the beginning of Matthew’s account of the third day – I imagine – are feeling that emptiness. They’ve lived through the cries and pain of Friday and suffered through the silence and numbness of Saturday.

We’ve experienced those moments as well in our lives. The dire news received about a loved one. Waking up each morning and thinking, “What’s happened now?” Why this way? Why now? When will it stop? In it all, that sense of fear and desperation that not one thing will be able to move us through this.

Yet, the Mary’s come to the tomb of our Lord and the angel says, “Y’all – it’s empty in there. He’s not there.”

I imagine that their immediate reaction is one of great dismay and deeper emptiness. That is not what you expect to hear as you hope to continue with the burial process and ritual. They came to mourn, they came to clean, they came to tend to their friend’s body.

Yet, the tomb was empty. This must not be good.

Yet, the angel comforts them – Don’t be afraid. He isn’t here.

This begins God’s way of using the unexpected to show love to the world.

We celebrate the empty tomb today. Jesus is risen! [He is risen indeed! Alleluia!]. Thus, begins this new thing that God has in store for us all. Thus, begins the new reality in which we all live. A reality that in that empty tomb – we experience fullness and wholeness. We experience hope through that empty tomb.

This is emptiness that brings forth hope and joy. It isn’t an emptiness that was ‘taken’ from us; this isn’t an emptiness where something has ‘run out,’ this isn’t emptiness where joy was snatched away. No, this is an emptiness that leads to life and promise. An emptiness that stems from hope – from resurrection. This is emptiness of loved poured fully out and through the promise of new life from our God who loves us fully and completely and with no end.

This is a new reality where the ‘old rules’ just don’t work anymore. A man has risen from the dead – dead people aren’t supposed to get up. And if they do we’ve been taught through movies, shows, and books to run the other way because they’re probably hungry. A man has shed his own grave clothes, rolled back the door that separates life from death, and walked out. God has done something new here. God has made something whole, good, perfect, and new because that tomb was empty.

And in that emptiness of the tomb – we are invited to partake and experience in this newness of Christ. Where because Christ was not present in that tomb – we know that Christ has promised to be present with us here – to be present with us in the community we gather in, in the words we speak, in the songs we sing, in the life we live, in the bread and wine in which we are about to eat and drink. To be present in our hearts where he’s promised to dwell.

Jesus is here – because he’s no longer there in that tomb. The tomb is empty! And because that tomb is empty – we are full

Full of life.

Full of grace.

Full of hope.

God has come and changed the rules. God has poured out love, to fill the emptiness of our lives.

Because that tomb is empty – God says death is not final. Whatever fear or control death has over us – it is no more.

Because that tomb is empty – Christ says I’m here for all.

Because that tomb is empty – we have hope. We have grace. We have life.

Because that tomb is empty – we are here, whether we’ve been here the whole time or are curious as to what this means. Perhaps you’ve been separated because your own emptiness. Maybe you’re listening on the radio wondering what all this could mean. Regardless of how you got here; you’re here. We are here.

We’re here to experience this story again. This story and this promise of a man who died on a cross for the world, and again for the world walked out of his own tomb.

We celebrate ‘empty’ today – an empty because love and hope; grace and life has been poured out overwhelmingly into the world.

Do not be afraid my sisters and brothers. Proclaim this message in all that you do, in all that you are, be overzealous in your proclamation. We celebrate this empty tomb. We know that because Jesus isn’t there in the tomb, Jesus is here with us in all times and places. Christ has been raised from the dead. We are here today and all days because of Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s a strange story, one where we find strength in shame, we find hope at the foot of a cross – an instrument of death – and where we receive new life as Jesus passes over from death to life. We remember and celebrate God’s awesome power and love.

We celebrate that Christ died and has risen for the ENTIRE world. We celebrate that Jesus has taken upon the sin and shame of all creation in his death and has been resurrected in new life so that WE, the entirety of creation, might have new life.

We celebrate empty today. We celebrate emptiness because God’s love has been fully poured out. Poured out to fill our own emptiness. To fill us to the brim with grace and wonder. We celebrate empty as a reminder in the promise that we are filled.

The tomb is empty. Thanks be to God. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia! Amen.

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