Sunday, April 1, 2018 Easter
Welcome to Sunshine Cathedral, a congregational mission of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We come together each week to sing and pray, to read the sacred texts of ancient times and those of our day. We celebrate community and strive to live our lives ethically and lovingly in all that we do. Let us gather in community to rest in the love of the one who made us in Her image.
Call to Worship
You have turned our mourning into dancing!
You have taken away our funeral clothes
and re-clothed us in joy,
so that our whole being—body, mind and soul—
might sing praise to you and not be silent.
Eternal Source of Life we give thanks forever! Alleluia!
Let us pray... We give thanks that Resurrection Power blesses our lives today. Alleluia! Amen.
Priest and poet John Banister Tabb wrote:
“Out of the dusk a shadow, then, a spark. Out of the cloud a silence, then, a lark.
Out of the heart a rapture, then, a pain. Out of the dead, cold ashes, Life again.”
(+) The Good News as recorded in the Fourth Gospel (John 20.1-16, 18a):
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed… Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? [For] whom are you looking…?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.”
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral
(click on the box below to play an audio version of the Easter reflection)
I Have Seen the Christ
We made it! We’ve passed through another Lenten season, through another season of snow and cold, through the darkness of the winter months in the northern hemisphere. And today we emerge into the light of hope. Today Alleluias are on our lips and we rejoice again in the knowledge that our connection with the divine cannot be broken, not even by death.
There is great power in the resurrection story that is at the heart of the Christian tradition. This is not a story about a reanimated corpse. The Christ is not some Frankenstein body that stumbles out of the grave into the light thrashing about in fear. The Christ is risen in our hearts on Easter morning, risen in hope that today can be a better day for humanity; risen in hope that Dr. King’s dream can become reality; risen in hope that every image of God embodied in human form will one day be honored and respected for the incarnation of Christ we all represent.
On this Easter Sunday let us turn from the death dealing news of hatred and hunger to the life giving message of hope that Easter represent. May we allow our spirits to soar once more in the knowledge that we are not deserted by God even when we feel alone. May we remember that the Holy One is as close as our breath even when we feel we may never feel that love again.
Many of us were raised in religious traditions that teach us that if we follow the rules of our religion that everything will turn out right, that God’s favor will fall on us. And yet pain and disappointment come into our lives. Those we love pass judgment on us and shun us. And we inevitably suffer the pain of loss in the death of someone we love. Grief and mourning feel like a black shroud surrounding us and hope seems like a glimmer in our memory.
Easter reminds us that we were not born to die, we were born to live. We were not created to lie alone in a grave, we were made for love and relationship. Our journey through Lent and the horrors of Holy Week remind us that living in relationship is risky business. People we love will disappoint us. Family and friends on whom we depend will die and we will be left to deal with all the emotions that come with that loss. And then we confront the empty tomb.
In our gospel reading today Mary Magdalene and the other women have returned to the tomb where Jesus was buried on Friday as the Sabbath descended. They come to the tomb to finish preparing the body for burial as they only had time to wash and wrap the body before the Sabbath began. They expect to find death. They expect to find the corpse of their friend and teacher. But they are confronted with an empty tomb.
It’s quite natural that one would assume that Jesus body had been moved or even stolen. That is the logical assumption. But soon they are confronted with the reality that life does triumph over death. And the teachings of the gentle rabbi from Nazareth live on in our work for justice to this very day. Jesus was crucified on a cross on a hill called Golgotha. But the Christ arose to rebirth hope in the human spirit and remind us that we are not alone or abandoned by God, even in mourning, not even in death.
The power of the resurrection is not a supernatural power that reanimates a corpse. Resurrection power is the power of hope in the human spirit. It is the realization that Christ lives incarnate in the world in the laughter of a child, in the outstretched hand of one human helping another, in our striving for justice so that all people are given the dignity they deserve as the living image of the Creator of the universe.
We humans fail in our calling to bring Christ alive in the world but that does not release us from continuing the work of bringing the realm of God into consciousness for all of creation. Easter reminds me of the great poem by Judy Chicago a poem that has no name but one that resonates to the depths of the human soul. It echoes the resurrection of hope in our hearts...
“And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then we’ll cherish life's creatures
And then all will live in harmony with one another and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.”
Let us pray.... Our hearts are filled with Alleluias today, O God. Receive our praise and continue to fill us with joy. Alleluia, Amen.
Music for today's service: Download SL20180401