Friday, March 25, 2016

EASTER DAY - Idle Tales?

There is a widely held view that human beings are much more prone to believe negative or bad news stories than they are to believe good news stories.

There is something in our brain that seems to be wired for this kind of negativity and so when someone tells us something critical about ourselves we take that right to heart, but is someone tells us a compliment, we brush it off and we certainly do not take it to heart.

Someone once described this using a metaphor of Velcro® for the effect negative things have on us and Teflon® for the effect good things have on us – one hangs on like glue, and the other slides off.

So it was on that Resurrection morning.  The closest women friends of Jesus went early in the morning to the tomb in which Jesus’ body had been laid.  While Joseph and his friends had done the basics in preparing Jesus’ body for burial before the “Sabbath” arrived, there was obviously more to be done.  When they got there something was seriously wrong.

The stone closure to the tomb had been hauled back and when they looked inside they saw no body.  The text says: “They stood there puzzled about this.”  I think I might have been more than puzzled.

Anyway, the angels appear and remind the women of Jesus’ forecast of this moment, and then tell them that he is risen.  Amazingly the women believe this straight off.  There is a sense that they are grasped by the Good News and this changes the way the whole world looks to them – forever.  Jesus had promised them way back in Luke 6 – “Happy are you who weep now: you will laugh.”  That seemed impossible when they first heard it – until now.  Just like when Jesus told them “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.”  This life ethic seemed impossible too – until now.

Easter Day brings us the shocking gift of good news: a new way of seeing life that lifts us out of our old ways, turns us around, and reveals everything from a shining new perspective.  That is why you are here today, isn’t it?

When we are experiencing the dark side of life – illness, difficulties, war and persecution as some of you have, or our lives just getting messy and out of control – we want so much to believe that darkness is NOT more powerful than light, and that by Christ’s resurrection God is able to transform our lives.

You have to read between the lines, I think, to see how this good news transformed the lives of these women.  I can imagine them skipping along.  I can imagine them chattering to each other and singing with those wonderful ululations that Middle Eastern and African women are so good at.  And there would be tears – as the realisation that He was not dead but alive began to sink in.

That is why we sing such joyful music and have trumpets and drums and sometimes even dancing.  We have the only good news that can set this world to rights.

But the powers-that-be want nothing of this good news.  “An idle tale” is what the men called it and they would not believe it.  They preferred to be overwhelmed by the bad news of Jesus’ death.  I doubt if the women were really surprised when the men said that.  Women were regarded legally as “incredible” as witnesses of anything.  But there must have been something about the way the women spoke that was new – or empowered.  While the men said “No!  Couldn’t be!”  Peter did get up and go to see for himself, and of course the truth was revealed.

God’s Easter power has met them unexpectedly at the empty tomb, and God’s great Easter victory has transformed all other realities of their lives.

Easter joy like there is contagious and it will not be silenced.  The good news of Easter is real even in the face of doubt and unbelief.  Let us all go from this place like these faithful women to proclaim this good news that can transform lives wherever and whenever we can.

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