Readings and reflection from Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013
Psalm 118.1, 17O give thanks to God who is good. God’s steadfast love endures forever! 17I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the HOLY ONE
Odes of Solomon, Ode 17.1-4, 7-9I was crowned by my God and my crown is Life! I was justified by my God, for my wholeness is incorruptible. I have been freed from vanities and I am not condemned. My chains were cut off and I received the face and likeness of a new person. I walked with God and was kept safe. And the one who knew and exalted me is the Most High. The Compassionate One kindly glorified me…and I opened doors which had been closed.
Luke 24.1-4a, 10-12 (NRSV)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This is the question that the fabulously dressed men asked the women who came to the tomb that morning looking for Jesus. He was not there. Christ had risen to live among us forever, to companion us, to comfort us, to help and strengthen us as any friendship does. This was not their expectation clearly. They thought they would find the dead body of their friend. They had some to take care of that body. To lovingly say goodbye for the last time. But instead they ran breathlessly to tell the others that Jesus body was not there, that something wonderful had happened.
Last week we rehearsed the passion of Jesus. On Good Friday we marked that darkest of days and witnessed again the brutal execution of a person who simply wanted to make the world a more just place. We called to mind all those who have and continue to give their lives for the cause of justice love. We remembered all those who have suffered death at the hands of empire.
But today we witness the reality again that the human spirit cannot be contained in the grave, that God’s grace extends beyond death, now we know the rest of the story. We are not alone. We are not abandoned by God in our distress. No matter what the forces of this world do to our physical body, in the end there is life and hope.
Today is a good day to ask ourselves the question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Isn’t that what we do in most of our churches, synagogues, and mosques? We keep the old ways instead of asking how can our beliefs serve this generation. We try to force people to keep traditions instead of helping them form their own ethical compass to help them navigate the trials they will face in life.
It’s time we began to consider what the purpose of a faith community is. Do we simply gather and have a service every week? Do we sing songs and listen to ancient texts with a contemporary reading thrown in? Obviously it’s much more than that but how would someone outside the group know that? Do we invite our friends into the community?
It’s a wonderful thing to gather together. It’s good for us to learn the stories of our faith traditions. It’s important for us to experience community and feel supported by others. But none of this is evidence of our faith. The only evidence of a real and vital faith is the action that we take to bring about God’s realm of justice love in this world.
Each of us has a unique set of gifts and talents. We all have a specific personality, particular experiences, education, training, and we all have different interests. Each of these things make up who we are and what we have to offer the world. If we want our lives to have meaning we must serve others. We are built to make the world a better place. This is what fulfills our lives and gives hope to the world.
That is what Jesus did. He spent his life feeding the hungry, encouraging the downtrodden, raising the dead, and giving hope to all those who could hear his voice. And that is our pattern for living a life worth living.
The Christian faith is not about doctrines or dogmas. Its about relationships, friendships, communities of people who come together to spread God’s love throughout the world. That does not include demeaning others. It does not include judging others and creating lists of things that have to be fulfilled in order to be part of the group.
It means taking off our cloak and washing the feet of those around us. It means service to others. It means treating others as we would like to be treated, loving our neighbors as ourselves. Spreading the message of God’s love in the way we live our lives.
Because we function in a virtual world we are not exempt from the expectation that we will act justly and treat each other well. We can be as much a model for those in Second Life as we can be in our real lives.
Let us walk into the sunlight of the resurrection today with hope in our hearts willing to risk being in relationship with others to show God’s love to the world. If not us then who? If not now when? If we simply do our part, we will be amazed at what can happen.
Christ is risen. It’s Easter again. Let us go forth rejoicing in God’s goodness! Hallelujah!
"Stubborn Love" by the Lumineers