Sunday, April 05, 2015

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

I like the cleaver ways churches are getting the word about their ministries and inviting people to worship. Our Savior's had billboards and postcards with Easter peeps out in the community. One peep stood out among many with the caption: "We'll save you a seat." Cute. A church in Indianapolis was handing out cards in my brother's neighborhood inviting him to Easter services saying: "Surprise you mother. Go to church this Sunday."

How much does it take to surprise good ol' mom? I would image this Easter there will be a few moms out there surprised to see their kids all dressed up for morning services. Some surprised moms might even be a little speechless.

There are a whole lot of surprises to be found in the Easter story we find in Mark's Gospel. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint Jesus' body on the morning after the Sabbath. They were in for a surprise. The stone for the tomb had already been rolled back and Jesus' body was no longer there. A young man, dressed in white, sat in the tomb. By this time not only were the women surprised, they became alarmed. The young man tells them what has happened: Jesus "has been raised; he is not here (Mark 16:6)."

It's interesting how surprise can quickly grow into alarm. When we are surprised it is usually because something we didn't expect, happened. We might then ask: What else might happen that we didn't expect? What can I really be certain about any more? Many a person has moved from surprise to alarm to fear to despair. Surly though, that cannot be the case for the women at the tomb. It was a good surprise; like Wisconsin beating Kentucky in the Final Four.

But in Mark's Gospel surprise becomes alarm, which then becomes terror for the women. After all, the dead don't come back to life. It just does not happen. "So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:8)."

Easter is a surprising day. But moms surprised by their hipster sons being clean shaven for the holiday is nothing compared to the surprise experienced by the women at the tomb or by us hearing this message today. They said nothing to anyone... Well, somebody better tell someone about this resurrection. The dead have come alive again. Mortality is not the end for us.

The biggest surprise of Easter morning is that today is your liberation day. Jesus' new life is your fresh beginning as well. Surprise does not need to lead to fear and terror for you.  Instead you are free to live boldly. Be that peep who stands out. What do you really believe in: the lies that tell you that dead is dead my friend. the lies that convince you that you just don't have enough to be happy, the lies that convince you to fear the world around you?

Surprise. You can how live empowered and free because tomb is empty. Jesus is not here, he has been raised. Somebody has to embrace this free gift of life and love that comes to us at Easter. Surprise, surprise, surprise: why not you?

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