The Message: "Still Risen," The Easter Story, August 21, 2022

The Message: "Still Risen," The Easter Story, August 21, 2022

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
August 23, 2022


“Still Risen!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
The Easter Story

[Read 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 job?
            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 event.

            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 intersection.

            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!

The 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 warfare.
            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 us.

            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.

            Just 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.

            Jesus Christ is risen! The tomb is empty. He has conquered death.

            He calls us and he offers us life … new life. Let us embrace it, live it, and offer it to the world.

            “Listen up, everyone! Jesus Christ is still risen!” Amen.


Congregational Church