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Easter - Resurrection of Our Lord - Mark 16:1-8

Easter leads to Good Friday.

Maybe that's why the women are terrified into silence; the news is explosive and will ignite potent backlash.

It's not that people won't believe them; it's that when people do believe, the safeties are off.

Jesus' resurrection means, among so many other things, divine vindication of his vision.

God is speaking a thunderous yes to his ministry that led to the cross in the first place: touching untouchables, eating with sinners, exposing the powerful, lifting up the powerless, redefining religion, threatening established order.

It's the vision Martin Luther King, Jr. translated for our country as a dream: the resurrection of equality, the rise of justice, the Easter dawn of dignity and mutuality.

When he applied it to Vietnam he was castigated; when he applied it to Memphis sanitation

workers, he was murdered fifty-three years ago this morning.

Easter leads to Good Friday, because the forces that defy God always fight back.

Georgia is still hemorrhaging with racial fear, distrust, and power struggle.

Washington was still celebrating victorious peace when Lincoln was assassinated.

Emancipation was met with Jim Crow.

The rollout of vaccines has been met with new strains of virus.

The return to public gatherings has been met with the return of mass shootings.

The verdict in the Chauvin case, no matter how just and right it is, will infuriate someone.

Any and every victory for life gets challenged.

No good deed goes unpunished.

As a teenager, I once made the naive mistake of prioritizing well-being over appearances.

I asked the pastor to help us with family conflict, and was quickly and severely taught NEVER to do that again.

Now it shows up in sermons instead.

Truth and life refuse to stay buried.

Somehow, eventually, Good Friday always bends to Easter.

So we can face brutal reality with bulletproof confidence.

We can overcome our silence and fear to raid the world with Christ's reckless love.

Since you're here, the women must have said something to someone.

But Mark's gospel ends, like an Aaron Sorkin script, in confusion and silence and terror.

There were no other gospels written yet—you couldn't just jump to Luke.

So eventually the reader had to return to chapter one—the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who appears in Galilee in the treacherous shadow of Herod—and realize that chapter one is also chapter seventeen.

Easter leads to Good Friday, but all its terrifying fury still has no answer for resurrection.

Jesus will not stay put in biblical religion, or history, or social justice, or patriotism, or your pet cause, or good behavior, or church, or any other grave we give him, no matter how nice we make it or tight we seal it.

True love crosses every line, including the secure border of death, to bring all peoples to God's feast of vintage joy.

"Now I get it," said Peter, staring slack-jawed at non-Jews bursting with God's Spirit.

I truly understand that God shows no partiality, he said, citing Easter.

He had just seen a vision of forbidden foods God commanded him to eat; he righteously refused.

This happened three times, just like his denial of Jesus, who included him in Easter even after he walked away: go and tell his disciples and Peter...

What God has called clean, you must not call profane, God said.

All peoples, God said.

The next scene in Acts is the church chewing Peter out for it; we religious people are often God's most obstinate obstacles.

We are so much better at Good Friday with a sweet dead God than Easter with a wild, living one.

But faithless Peter can't stay at Good Friday and neither can we.

The faithful women can't stay silent in the cemetery and neither can we.

God loves us and our backward, defiant world too much to let our vicious resistance win.

God has invested too much in the joyful feast and the fate of Jesus to let a bullet derail the dream.

God's table saves a seat for you, and those you love, and those you can't, and sleazy politicians, and difficult religious people, and little black boys and black girls with little white boys and white girls, and haters, and border crossers, and murderers, and sibling sinners from all peoples, and Peter.

Resurrection means we can and must love anyone and everyone with absolute fearlessness.

Yes, it will cost too much and hurt like hell, but the cross and the tomb end up empty.

Good Friday ultimately leads, and loses, to Easter.

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