When we were kids… most of us believed in fairy-tales and fantasies.
When we got older… these ‘fantastic’ beliefs were taken from us, and replaced with ‘the real world’.
This is not to say that the real world doesn’t have its fair share of joys and fulfillment and excitement… but there is something sad about losing ‘the magic’ of fantasy.
I remember the year that I learned for certain that there was no Easter Bunny. I don’t know exactly how old I was, but I was in elementary school. I remember starting to doubt ‘the facts’ a year earlier… a big bunny that goes to everyone’s home and hides eggs and fills baskets with candy? But, WANTING to believe… I ignored the doubts. Then it happened. On Easter Eve I was asleep in my bed when I was awoken by someone tugging at the leg of my pajamas. When I looked, my parents were hiding an egg (and Easter Bunny egg!) in the cuff of my pajama pants. I remember the awkward moment as we all realized that the ‘fantasy’ was over.
On Easter we turn our hearts and minds and spirits to the resurrection of Jesus. It is easy to just pass it off as another ‘fantasy’ that ought to be over. It is easy to come to the conclusion that The Risen Jesus Christ, and all that he brings with him: God’s love for the world, forgiveness of all the world’s ‘junk’, a chance for us to make a real, healthy, powerful, and positive difference in the world, and eternal life, is just too fantastic to actually be true.
But today, of all days, I invite everyone to suspend that notion… just for a moment as we read the account of what happened:
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:1-10)
Just by way of observation let me point out two things. First, unlike ‘fantasies’ like the Easter Bunny, in which there is a great expectation, or ‘fantasy’, that is ultimately let down, the resurrection is just the opposite: no one thought, in their wildest dreams, that Jesus would be raised from the dead. The reality was that Jesus was dead and buried… the women who went to the tomb were not expecting to FIND anything miraculous (see Mark 16:1-8 or John 20:1-18). Second, the reality of what God was doing wasn’t what anyone expected all along. The people expected a Jesus that would be a ‘warrior-king’, not someone who would die a shameful death on the cross. The religious leaders expected someone who looked like them… and fit into their ‘box’ of what God’s miraculous savior should be. We, ourselves, many of us, these days, have expected a Jesus who would make everything nice and take away all our hurts and take away all the evil in the world. In short, EVERYONE expected something… but God had something else in mind. The faithful have been on a quest ever since to ‘make sense’ of what God is doing… and letting go of the expectations and former ‘fantasies’ that don’t fit. Others, tragically, have concluded the ‘fantasy’ over.
Today is the day… to quest rather than conclude. There are real life miracles ahead! God has made that promise.
Join us at Waretown/Barnegat Anew this morning at 6:30am (at the Waretown Dock) or 11:00 am (at the Waretown Campus, 27 Bryant Rd.)
… and Happy Easter!