A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
The Easter Story
from Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s, The Book of God, for scripture reading]
The human brain is a remarkable
thing. Not only does it allow all of the systems in our bodies to function, but
it also has a memory capacity that far outweighs most computers. We can
remember song lyrics from our childhood years, the make, model and color of our
first car, what we wore to our prom, and conversations that we had ages ago.
Of course, there are lapses. We have
all had that certain relative that will run through all of the names of
children, grandchildren and family dogs before they finally arrive on the name
that they are looking for. There are certain people that may forget their
anniversary, or what every single person gave us … I mean THEM … for their
wedding. (I have failed that quiz numerous times.)
However, despite the occasional
lapses, most of us can recall, in very vivid detail, the incredible, the
stupendous, the wonderful, and the horrific events that have occurred in our
lives and in the world.
Can you remember … your wedding day?
The birth of your child?
The news that you got your dream
The moon landing?
The attack of September 11?
The day that the church burned down?
When we gather with our family and
friends, we share those stories that we have in common. We conjure up the
images and the emotions as we recount the events of that particular day or
People remember exactly where they
were when they heard the news.
The first moon landing … I was lying
on my parents’ bed watching on a small, black and white television.
September 11 … I was in the office
at First Baptist Church in New London, NH. The staff and I were listening to
the reports on the radio.
The day that this church burned down
… I was not here, but people share their memories with me all they time. They
tell me where they were standing. Some of them are still moved to tears when
they speak of it.
I can remember the first time that I
saw the empty lot. I was sitting in my car at the red light across the
My wedding day … I may not remember
who gave us what gift, but I DO remember that it was a beautiful June day with
clear blue skies, sunshine and a wonderful gathering of family and friends.
Even when my friends through me in the lake at the reception!
Empty Tomb …
As wonderful, or incredible, or
stupendous the events of our lives may be, the message of the empty tomb stands
alone. Many events that occur in the world around us have significant results
and impact, but none greater than the Good News of that first Easter morning.
That singular event changed the world forever!
I chose to share the reading from
Walter Wangerin’s book because as a storyteller, he draws us deeper into the
story. He combines the narrative from the Gospel writers into one. He fills in
some of the drama and the emotions that the women and the disciples experienced
that day. Obviously, he can only imagine what they were experiencing, but each
year as we gather for our Easter celebrations, we try to imagine as well. But,
with a distance of nearly two thousand years, it is hard for us to summon the
same emotions. We do not have any experiences in our own lives from which we
can draw comparable feelings.
Of course, it does not help matters
when Easter has become yet another over-commercialized day for retailers to
ring up profits. Economists estimate that we spent almost thirty BILLION
dollars on Easter here in the United States this year. Thirty billion. Candy,
candy, and more candy, plastic eggs to put that candy in, baskets, Easter
outfits, Easter dinner, etc.
Easter, like Christmas, is
celebrated by people that never even set foot in a church. It has become
completely secularized, trampled by people wearing bunny suits. Three weeks
ago, when I was searching for an image for the cover of our Christmas in July
bulletin, I typed “Christmas in July” in the search field on Google images and
got Santa, Santa, snowman, Santa in sunglasses, Santa on the beach. This week,
I typed “Easter in August” into that same search field and got, Bunny, Bunny,
basket full of eggs, Bunny with sunglasses.
I am fairly certain that no one is
surprised by this. We have witnessed the mayhem of Christmas shopping. We have
tried to make dinner reservations for Easter Sunday. We are not surprised that the
interests of capitalism have found their way into the most significant
celebrations of our faith. And I am not implying that we cannot join in the
fun. Goodness knows that I enjoy putting on the costumes as much as … or more
than … the next guy.
What I am saying is that we cannot
and must not forget the joy.
When we walk to the tomb with the
women and the disciples, we must walk with the same feelings of fear, and
anxiety, and sorrow. We must walk with the same uncertainty and experience the
same confusion and bewilderment, so that we can also experience the same wonder
and awe! Allowing ourselves to dwell within their story enables us to truly
appreciate their joy.
Because their joy was the result of
a world-changing event! The Kingdom of God had arrived! The promises of Jesus
Christ were true!
Love had conquered death.
Peace had conquered violence and
Compassion had conquered selfish self-centeredness.
The resurrection was not simply some
supernatural, extraordinary miracle to impress the crowd. It was not God trying
to prove a point, “See, I told you so.” It was not even about offering the people
a new, deeply spiritual experience.
The resurrection was about God’s
purpose being fulfilled.
God is doing a whole new thing. It
is the new beginning that had been promised long ago. That Kingdom of God that
Jesus talked about from the very first days of his ministry had broken through.
The resurrection is a new commissioning to a new work, a new life, and a new
WAY of life in which everything that Jesus had told them before has come true.
The resurrection said to those first
disciples, “Now the work begins.”
And the resurrection says to us,
“Now the work continues.” Now the wonder and the joy is shared. Jesus was God
in the flesh, but he was far from an ordinary man. In fact, we was not even
extra-ordinary. He was MORE. He was more than an exceptional teacher and
preacher. He was more than an inspired miracle worker. He IS MORE.
He IS the Son of God!
He IS risen from the dead!
All of those lessons about love,
compassion, generosity, humility, faithfulness, righteousness take on a whole
new meaning. They have become our call, our mission, our life.
We cannot try to stuff Jesus back
into the tomb and say, “Sorry. We would rather do things our own way. See you
next year!” He is risen. His truth is still our truth. His call is still upon
The resurrection of Jesus Christ
changed the world. It is a singularly transformative event in the history of
the world. It must also be a transformative event in our lives. The
resurrection draws us in, it changes us. The resurrection is a story that must
be remembered. It is a story that has to be shared … told over and over again.
This is a story that has to be lived out every day.
like the costumes in the Christmas pageant, we must be willing to put on the
clothing of those first disciples. We must be willing to walk around in their
lives. We must experience their wonder, their awe, their joy.
Christ is risen! The tomb is empty. He has conquered death.
calls us and he offers us life … new life. Let us embrace it, live it, and
offer it to the world.
up, everyone! Jesus Christ is still risen!” Amen.
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771