Easter Sunday - The Empty Tomb: Easter Dawn

The Easter victory of Jesus Christ continues to send shockwaves down through the centuries, calling people of every age to be survivors with Him in the ongoing battle between good and evil. "Rejoice, heavenly powers! sing, choirs of angels; exult all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!"

The central theme of salvation history is survival: first of God's people, Israel, led from slavery to freedom - in the Exodus and Passover; and then of Jesus, the God man and Messiah, overcoming sin and death through His resurrection. The Easter victory of Jesus Christ continues to send shockwaves down through the centuries, calling people of every age to be survivors with Him in the ongoing battle between good and evil.

The Liturgies of Easter, more than any others during the year, speak to us of survival - of new life. I wonder just what those two little words mean to us… new life. Are we suggesting that God didn't do a very good job the first time around, so He should try again? Are we looking for another universal flood to wipe out the mess we have made, so that we can clean up and rebuild? Are we talking about the end of the world as we know it, and the onset of the last judgment? Not at all. We are constantly reminded that the mystery of Easter speaks to us of a very different kind of life... one that speaks not of failure, but of completion.... not of ending, but of a new beginning.  

We are reminded through our Paschal celebration of the tools that God gives us for the work of this new life.... fire, water, and an empty tomb. Look at the Sanctuary in your parish church... look at the symbols, look at what have we decorated and highlighted: The flame of the Easter Candle, the water of the Baptismal font, and the table where the Risen Lord invites us to break bread with Him and rediscover the meaning of His death and resurrection.

The message of Easter is: "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" We are not dead. We are not faithless, hopeless, or loveless. We will not be entombed in despair. We accept the challenge of this new life that we have been given through Christ. We believe that we are made new over and over again by the fire of God's love, by the life that surges in us from the waters of Baptism, and by the Bread and the Cup of the Eucharistic Table, where we are nourished in the life and power of the Risen Lord.

The Empty Tomb, and not Calvary, is the end, or rather the beginning of the Story of New Life. We come together in worship because we accept the responsibility for overcoming evil, and for conquering death in the ways it has invaded our world. We will not stand by and watch God's handiwork be destroyed or spoiled. We will be even stronger signs of faith, hope and love for our families, for our neighbors and friends, for our co workers. It is the Risen Christ who assures us of survival and victory.

In Baptism, we go down into the tomb with Him and emerge endowed with newness of Life. We join the survivors in the Community of Faith that is the Church. We make our journey in this company of believers, fortified by prayer, worship and sacramental encounters. And we remember especially during the coming Fifty Days of Easter we remember that In and through Jesus we have confronted evil, sin, disaster and death and we have overcome. In Him, we will continue to survive until He ushers us into the fullness of perfect life, where Easter is forever!

We need to hold on to Easter, and not let it slip through our minds and hearts with no noticeable effect. Resurrection faith is a marvelous gift, if we are open to receive it. It can change our lives and lead us to become the forgiving, peace filled people that Jesus wants us to be.

The shattering earthquake of Easter should make it impossible for us to continue being comfortable and complacent. Like any earthquake, it is just part of the story - it is within the aftershocks of that eartquake that Jesus invites us to share his new life - here and now. He offers us the strength to break old habits of thinking and acting, and the vision to re-examine all that we do and are in the light of that Easter Dawn. It is this brilliant and undiminished light of Resurrection Faith that the Risen Lord calls us to live.