RCL A Easter Day
Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2 and 14-24, Colossians 3:1-4, Saint John 20:1-18

If you think we were powerless on Good Friday, as Jesus suffers on the cross, we are doubly powerless today. With Mary Magdalene we see the stone rolled away from the tomb, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Like a bird long-held and set free, we may not know what to do with our new-found freedom. Indeed, as the Psalmist says, “On this day the Lord has acted; * we will rejoice and be glad in it.”[1] It’s up to us to accept God’s gift and to live accordingly. How do we do that?

For quite a long time, I’ve thought that today’s Epistle is a sequel to a brief passage in the Epistle to the Romans: “We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”[2] That idea, that by baptism we die and are raised with Christ, perfectly precedes in thought today’s Epistle addressed to the Colossians: “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is.”[3] Since we have been raised with Christ, we leave death behind. We are free, completely free, to set our minds on the things that are above.

Our freedom extends from and is the result of God’s power. As I often say from the pulpit, God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. And by the instrument of raising Jesus, of the empty tomb, God has set us free from death. We are free to be the people God created us to be. We are free to set our minds on the things that are above. We are free to be in our lives and in our actions signs to those around us of Christ’s resurrection. Our old selves have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God, as we heard in the Epistle.

As always, we have a choice between dying and living; and since we have already died, we may as well live.

I would put that choice to you in this way. We all know, in one endeavor or another, the fear of failure. But since we have died and have been raised, there is no fear of failure to intimidate us. We have, on the other hand, the fear of success. Each of us possesses what we need to have to do the hardest and most intimidating things. We have what it takes to forgive. We have what it takes to share. We have what it takes to tell someone how we have survived death. We have what it takes to write a happy ending to our own stories. We have been set free from all the things that hold us back.

Our journey has just begun. With eyes that have seen and known the Resurrection, we are on our way. At the end of today’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene announces to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”[4] And like her, we are likely to see nothing else except the Lord, except the opportunities given to us by the Lord, and except the good works the Lord gives us to walk in. For we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God.[5]

[1] Psalm 118:24.

[2] Romans 6:4.

[3] Colossians 3:1.

[4] Saint John 20:18.

[5] Colossians 3:3.