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Resurrection of Our Lord - Matthew 28:1-10

How unusual are these times?


The church is out ahead of the rest of the world.

I can't ever remember that happening in my ministry before, but here we are, on April 12,

coming out of quarantine, or as we usually call it, Lent.

Lent is the forty day period of prayer and fasting (doing without) in preparation for the fifty day feast of Easter, a kind of spiritual lockdown.

We do this every year, because liturgy is practice for life, and it's good to have some muscle

memory built up when world conditions demand a fast or a feast.

Quarantine is an Italian word from the seventeenth century meaning "space of forty days" – the standard period of isolation for a ship suspected of carrying disease.

An English version of the word, quarentyne, refers to the desert in which Christ fasted 40 days:

our template for Lent.

Today, our Lenten quarantine is over even as our social quarantine continues.

Like Christians of every time and place and circumstance, we are part of two different

realities at the same time.

Therefore we stay home, and we also celebrate.

We live and grieve and isolate in the present with joyful confidence in God's future.

In Paul's words to the citizens of Philippi, our citizenship is in heaven.

Jesus walked through the kingdom of Herod initiating people into the kingdom of heaven.

Two different realities, two different realms at the same time, and we have dual citizenship.

We are part of the world that God so loves that needs us to stay in quarantine, and we are

part of the risen body of Christ that will be confined no longer.

Both spirit and flesh, already and not yet, saints and sinners, Christians and Californians, mortals and eternals, we are now the living bridge between this world's today and God's

tomorrow.

If that feels scary to you, you're paying attention.

The first step on this bridge, the initial threshold, is Easter morning, which is drenched in terror.

Too many years of lilies and smiling faces may have obscured this for us, but this weird year

helps us see and feel the overwhelming fear coarsing throughout Matthew's story.

In a cemetery, there's an earthquake and a blinding flash of lightning that opens a grave and starts talking.

For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

The women ran away with fear...and great joy.

They are not mutually exclusive.

Ask a woman who has just learned she is pregnant for the first time about fear and great

joy.

It is the natural response to new life.

Internet scouts warn, and promise, that after this pandemic quarantine, life will not be the same.

This is the truth of Easter, which is the birth of a new reality.

That's why the angel of the Lord shows up.

We haven't seen him in Matthew's gospel since chapter 2, directing the faithful when

Jesus was born, which sent the authorities into a panic, which is exactly what happens

next: the priests bribe the woozy soldiers to claim the disciples stole the body.

But lying politicians cannot contain the viral outbreak of new life.

Things will forever be different now.