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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Day 9 AM

[Every year, before Ash Wednesday, the students at Saint Mark's School help me box up "alleluia" in some form. The box is sealed shut and not opened until Easter Day. Each of the following corresponded to a sheet in the box with "Alleluia" printed on it, as we considered the many voices celebrating at that first Easter.]

Angels-Oh, the rejoicing in heaven! God’s promised plan to love people like they’d never been loved before had come to completion! And once more, the angels got to be on the scene; once more, they were tasked with reassuring people who were obviously scared to death; once more, they were the bearers of Good News: “He is not here. He is risen!” Who wouldn’t be thrilled to be part of such a day?

And so the angels cried, “Alleluia!”

Guards—Their excitement had nothing to do with Jesus; they were just grateful to be alive. They weren’t sure what had happened…one moment they were standing guard at the tomb of this stranger from Galilee…suddenly darkness and light and the ground shaking all around them…and then they were waking from a stupor and his body was gone. It hadn’t yet occurred to them they might be in BIG trouble.

And so the guards cried, “Alleluia!”

Mary Magdalene—Jesus had healed her, brought her back from a place of despair. All she could do in return was stand and watch as he died. But she would show her gratitude by bringing these spices and oils to anoint his body gently, one last time. How was it possible that he wasn’t there? Where could he have gone? Confusion swirled through her heart and mind, even as the angel spoke, even as she remembered his words anticipating this very resurrection. As the truth sank in, she began to run, faster and faster, the first one to tell the world that Love lives again.

And so Mary Magdalene cried, “Alleluia!”

Peter—As a fisherman—before this crazy idea of following Jesus—Peter had always been a no-nonsense kind of guy. The fish were biting or they weren’t. The water was safe enough to go out or it wasn’t. So when Mary Magdalene came running to say Jesus had risen, Peter had to go see for himself. After all, either a guy was dead or he wasn’t, and Jesus most assuredly had been dead. When he got to the tomb, all he found were strips of linen and the cloth that had been over Jesus’s face. As improbable as it seemed, Jesus wasn’t there, and Peter’s heart filled with amazement.

And so Peter cried, “Alleluia!”

Mary his mother-Mary’s alleluia came through gasping tears of joy beyond measure. She didn’t care what had happened in that tomb, she didn’t care how it had happened; all that mattered was that her beloved son, who had been so brutally crucified, was alive again. She couldn’t wait to put her arms around him, to hold him close and to smooth his hair and gently wipe the pain from his face.

And so Mary the mother of Jesus cried, “Alleluia!”

Simon of Cyrene—What relief he felt when he heard the news! It was terrible to have been part of Jesus’s crucifixion, to be grabbed out of the crowd and forced to carry the cross to Golgotha; and Jesus’s gentle, caring eyes only made him feel worse. The little sleep he’d gotten since then had been full of nightmares. But now he understood, so clearly, that this was much bigger than any of them knew…and he was part of it!

And so Simon of Cyrene cried, “Alleluia!”

Centurion-He knew! He’d known it all along! As he’d watched the unexpected calm, the unearthly peace of this man Jesus from the moment he stood before Pilate, he’d been sure there was something very different about him. Seeing his compassion and strength even as he died in such an awful way, the centurion knew it for certain. Jesus’s resurrection was evidence how right he was: “Truly this man was God’s Son.”

And so the centurion cried, “Alleluia!”

Thomas—Thomas’s alleluia was slow in coming. All the others leaping about, so excited; he knew better than to get so emotional about such an implausible tale. That is, until he saw Jesus himself, put his hands in Jesus’s wounds, looked into Jesus’s eyes…then all his doubts dissolved, and his head and heart together soared.

And so Thomas cried, “Alleluia!”

Jesus-It was finished on the cross. Was it possible that life and death was all his Father had planned for him? He’d done his best, given everything—everything!—he had. Was his role on earth accomplished when they wrapped his body in the shroud, laid it in the tomb, and sealed the opening with a boulder? But there in the darkness of death, something happened, something stirred; light returned, brighter and unquenchable. He wasn’t finished! This new life was his purpose.

And so Jesus cried, “Alleluia!”

It’s Easter, the feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the celebration of God’s free gift of eternal life and love beyond measure.

And so we all cry, “Alleluia!”

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