Sermon, April 16, 2017 Easter Sunrise

Something Happened
Rev. Thomas Cary Kinder
The Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ,
Bradford, Vermont
April 16, 2017
Easter Sunrise Service
Matthew 28:1-10

Something happened
at the beginning of the universe.
We call it the Big Bang.
We have no photographs,
no eye witnesses,
we have only the echo,
only the ripples of energy
still crossing space.

Something happened
at the beginning of Christianity.
We call it the resurrection.
It was around this time,
around this day,
around two thousand years ago,
and what happened exactly
we are not sure—
there was an empty tomb,
some say there was an earthquake
and lightning,
there were visions of
radiant beings of light,
there were appearances
to various people in various places
of the dead alive again—
all mysteries, all uncertain,
all recorded only
decades after whatever
happened happened,
and we may wish
we had fingerprints
and lie detector tests
and live footage, but
we don’t, and we never
will have all the facts
except this one:
the fact is that
something happened
that convinced a community
of people just like us
that something had happened.

We have their story
that carries the echo
of what happened.
We can sense its cosmic energy
still rippling out across time,
invisible but detectable,
and we can see patterns in nature
that repeat its sounding joy.

We did not see
Jesus overcome
the power of death.
We did not see the universe
beam its force of love
and life and light
down onto the man Jesus
and manifest in miracles.
And yet we can feel
connected to that force
simply by inclining
our faith in his direction.
We can have the power
of love and life and light,
the power to rise and rise again
simply by believing in the
unseen something
behind the story.

How can this be?
We do not know.
It is a mystery.
But since that day and hour
when something we cannot
know for certain happened,
people like us have gathered
and affirmed this wild faith,
and we have shared our intuitions,
and pooled our evidence of its truth.

We may not have seen Jesus rise, but
we have seen how the tree, stunted and bent,
overshadowed in the thicket,
will rise and flourish when
we release it to the light.
We have seen how the earth buried
under the weight of snow
will come to life again,
and we have seen
how the bulbs buried
under the weight of the dark earth
will push up the slightest
of green shoots
to break into the light.
We have seen how dying people
will praise God and be radiant
even before the light
on the other side of death
raises them up.
We have seen how Easter people
will raise up songs of praise
whether they see the sun rise or not,
even while standing in the half-darkness
of a world full of troubles,
hoping even when no hope can be seen,
and all this because of what happened.

Did what they say happened
really happen? We do not know,
it is a mystery,
something God alone can see,
but we do know this:
it is happening right now.
We are the evidence
of its happening.
We are the risen light
of the world, we are the fingerprint
of resurrection, we are
the live footage.

So let us go forth
and do the work
that the universe has given us,
the work of love and life and light,
raising up and making green and making just,
bringing peace and healing,
keeping the body of Christ
alive and working in the world,
so that even if what we do
goes unrecorded, still
the energy will keep rippling out,
and people will know that something
must have happened,
because once again
they find themselves moved by hope
at the rising of the Easter sun,
to sing out, He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Let us pray in silence…