March is a pretty great month, just normally. You have March Madness, the NCAA’s annual tournament to determine the college basketball national champion. 66 teams enter, and they play their way down to The Final Four, and then a champion is crowned. It is very exciting, and I especially like to root for the underdog teams, the team seeded 12, or 13, or lower that upsets the big name school and goes on a magical run. Someday a 16 seed will defeat a 1 seed, and that will be amazing to watch.
OK, I like March Madness, but March is also when spring training baseball is in full swing (pun intended), and I can watch my favorite teams develop (favorite teams are, first the Cubs, second the Phillies, and third whoever is playing the White Sox), and get excited for the coming season.
But besides sports, March has St. Patrick’s Day, and because my mom was half Irish, it’s always been a big day for me. I have a lot of wonderful memories surrounding St. Paddy’s Day. But there is also March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, which is the big Italian feast day, and since my mom was also half Sicilian, it was also a big day (it’s a day to just eat course after course of wonderful Italian food and enjoy wonderful tradition music–very fun).
Plus, March is the month where spring officially begins, and so we (hopefully) are saying good-bye to another winter, and looking forward to warmer weather, getting back outdoors more, and preparing for the joy of yard work once again.
So March is just normally a pretty great month, but this year, it’s even better, at least for us church folk, because this year, March also has Easter Sunday. This year, Easter is just about as early as it can come, March 27th. And, well, Easter is the biggest day of the year in the church. Easter is the reason we have church.
Easter is the reason why there is a St. Luke’s. Easter is the reason we gather together every Sunday to worship God. Easter is the reason why we do the acts of kindness and service we do in the name of Jesus. Because Easter is the day when God says, loudly and proudly and decisively, “I win!”
Easter is the day of light and joy that is the answer, the antidote, the counter, to the darkness and despair of Good Friday (March 25). On Good Friday, Jesus is killed. Executed by the state as a traitor and as a truth-teller. Jesus is put to death in an attempt to silence him and get him and his message out of the way. Jesus is put to death by the forces of death in order to try and prop up the culture of death. Good Friday is death’s final attempt to say, I win.
And the church sits through Holy Saturday in silence, remembering how, back in that time of Jesus, it sure looked like death had won, that death had silenced the truth of love and grace, the truth of mercy and forgiveness, the truth of hope and peace. The followers of Jesus sat in stunned silence, as it sure looked like death had silenced God.
And then a couple of the women who followed Jesus went to the tomb to take care of the final acts of devotion for their fallen leader, and BAM, everything had changed. The tomb was empty, Jesus wasn’t there, and a couple of mysterious folks tell them the BEST NEWS EVER!!!!
Jesus ain’t here, ladies, nope, not at all. He’s been raised from the dead (just like he told you, in case you forgot), and he’s alive, not just for a few more days or weeks or years, but forever. This is Easter, and death just got whooped and made a fool of by God. Death doesn’t win, God wins. Big time. Life wins. Big time. All your fears, all your worries, all your sorrow, all your stress about what to do now, they’re all taken care of, because Jesus ain’t dead anymore.
So go tell somebody! Go on, get out of here, get away from that empty tomb, and tell the world–death is done! Death is not the end! Death doesn’t get the last word! God has done the impossible, except that nothing is impossible with God. God has beaten death at its own game. The forces of death took on Jesus, took on God, killed Jesus on a cross, and God just said, nice try. Now see what I can do.
Easter is the celebration of just what God can do. God can defeat death. God can raise Jesus up from death back to life, and not just this same life extended, but new life. Eternal life. Resurrection life. Life that will have no end. Life that is spent with God, in God’s kingdom.
Easter is about resurrection life, and the real good news is that that life is already happening right now, in us. The power, the gift, the blessing, the joy of the resurrection, it is already here with us, here within us, right now. Already, God is working resurrection within us. Already, God is bringing resurrection to us. Already, God is filling us with resurrection hope, and resurrection joy, and resurrection peace.
Death is still out there, we all know that, but Easter says it has no real power anymore. It’s been beaten, conquered, defeated, by God, in Jesus, and now, through baptism, for us. We will still face death, but we have already conquered death through Jesus. God has won the championship, and we are on God’s winning team. The trophy awaits us all in God’s kingdom.
That’s Easter, that’s why we celebrate it, that’s why every single Sunday is a little Easter, that why we gather to worship, that’s why we have hope in the face of everything,
that’s why we are people of the resurrection. Easter is the day when we say, together, as loudly as possible, God wins, and through God’s grace and love, so will I. Happy Easter! See you in church!