Easter Sunday- Fr. Chris Duncan- April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018

In 1609 Galileo aimed his rudimentary telescope up to the night sky. He later wrote of that experience saying, “It is a beautiful and wonderful sight to behold the body of the moon…” That first up-close view of the moon led Galileo to question the contemporary belief of that time – that all things in the universe revolved around the earth. Yes, Galileo looked up at the heavens using a telescope and what he saw forever revolutionized our understanding of the universe. And it all began with our ordinary and quite familiar moon.

As an Easter people, we can sometimes find the resurrection story has become so familiar to us that we no longer approach the narrative in awe and wonder. And yet, it is a story that invites nothing less than astonishment. Resurrection is so other, so foreign to the normal realities of life. We are conversant with matters of birth and death. We might even be familiar with resuscitation as people are brought back from the brink of death. However, resurrection… well that is something altogether different. And each gospel offers its own unique telling of Christ’s resurrection and so with fresh ears we are to engage this text once more.

Perhaps you noticed that the Gospel of Mark did not offer as many of the elements that we have grown to expect. That is sort of Mark’s style. You see, the entire gospel was about pointing to and getting to the cross this past Friday. Other gospel versions will spend more time on resurrection events and pointing to that as the ultimate act of Christ. But for Mark, the apex of Christ’s story was the death upon the cross with the full revelation of Jesus’ identity coming from the Roman centurion of all people who stated “Truly this was God’s Son!”

The post-resurrection story for Mark is therefore quite simple. Or as Sergeant Joe Friday would say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” The women come to the tomb. The stone is already rolled away. There is no fanfare except for a man, presumably an angel but not named as such. The man in white shining clothes says Jesus is not there and that he will meet them in Galilee as promised. The women are filled with terror and amazement and say “nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” And then it ends. Yes, there is more to Mark’s Gospel story, but not much. And in fact, the oldest copies known of Mark’s Gospel actually end with those words… They run away in fear and tell no one.

Why? Why end there? Even if that is where the original versions of Mark’s Gospel ended, we know the story didn’t end with no one being told because we are gathered this morning and sharing the story once more. And so once again, why end there? This is the question that preachers, New Testament scholars, and theologians have been wrestling with for centuries. Perhaps it is the fact that the emotions of the story are honest. It is real. It is a reminder that what happened on that first Easter was so shocking and outside the realm of “normal” that the only response was awe and even fear because they didn’t yet understand. Because if the words of that strange man in white sitting on the place where Jesus’ body was supposed to be were true, then everything had changed… and in fact, everything had changed.

Recently, Wylie Overstreet was bored in his apartment. So he packed up his $1000 12-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope and set out for the streets of Los Angeles. He set up his telescope and then… just hung out. Naturally, the curiosity of passing pedestrians over the bulky metal tube led to questions and Wylie simply responded “It’s a telescope. Take a look.” With caution and inquisitiveness, people gazed through the eyepiece and exclaimed “Oh my God, “No way,” and “It’s incredible!” The telescope you see was aimed at the moon. And although we often look up and see it, very rarely do we stop to examine it especially up close. As Galileo said, “It is a beautiful and wonderful sight to behold the body of the moon…” For a handful of pedestrians in Los Angeles, people found a majestic sight when they peered through Wylie’s telescope. Not all of them responded with words. Some were struck silent in the moment; others gasped as the air left their lungs; and some even welled up with tears humbled by the moment. Wylie described the experience by saying, “To be able to see [the moon] up close, and feel like you can almost reach out and touch it – that’s what makes it real to us… I think there’s something special about that. Something unifying. It’s a great reminder that we should look up more often.”[i]

            We tend to overlook the magnificence that can be found in everyday things around us. And even more so, we should not let our familiarity with the Easter story of all things take away our ability to revel in its awe and wonder. Yes, every Sunday is an Easter feast and every burial is a celebration of life in the light of Christ’s resurrection. But today, we peer into the empty tomb with the women. Or to edit Wylie’s words a bit: To be able to see the resurrected Christ up close, and feel like you can almost reach out and touch him – that’s what makes it real to us… I think there’s something special about that. Something unifying. It’s a great reminder that we should look for the resurrected Christ in our lives more often. Yes, today we peer into the empty tomb with the women and are left in awe and wonder.

In their own ways, what each Easter gospel story shows us are possibilities, divine possibilities. We are confronted with God’s possibilities of grace, mercy, and love… a hope that informs our faith. The resurrection is not assurance that things won’t go wrong from time to time or that all will be easy. Instead, the resurrection is assurance that God’s possibilities will become our reality. And this gives us courage. In a world so full of hate and brokenness the resurrection gives us courage to not respond to hate and brokenness with more hate or more brokenness. Rather as an Easter people, we respond with that same grace, mercy, and love that God gives us. Indeed, Christ’s resurrection is so transformative that everything has changed.

And so our challenge this morning in the midst of this Easter feast is to not just know the story, but to allow ourselves to be wrapped up in the awe and wonder and glory of it all. We do not just know the Easter story, but we live the Easter story.

[i] “A New View of the Moon” by Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet. https://vimeo.com/259818647 (viewed on 3/29/2018)

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist


St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785

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