31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
April 1, 2018
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Ha! Gotcha! April Fools! The joke’s on you, sin. The laugh’s on you, death.
Can you imagine God saying that on the first Easter morning? Can you imagine God smiling and laughing as God raised Jesus from the dead?
I hope so because why wouldn’t God laugh with joy and delight? Why wouldn’t we laugh with joy and delight?
Easter is the best joke ever, the most awesome switcheroo. Where once the tomb was sealed and closed, now the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty. Where once there was worry and fear, now there is hope and joy. Where once there was death and sorrow, now there is new life.
Through Christ’s resurrection, we have all been given the best gift ever. Best gift ever! The thought of it makes me giddy with glee. We have all received the gift of new life. We have been told in no uncertain terms that God loves us beyond measure and that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever separate us from God’s love!
Best gift ever! Doesn’t the thought of how much God loves you make you want to laugh and dance and sing ‘Hallelujah!’?
And yet, the women didn’t. When the angel told them not to be alarmed, not to be afraid, when the angel told them the good news that Jesus of Nazareth who had been crucified, had been raised, they should have laughed with relief. They should have sung with joy. It was the most wonderful surprise! Jesus was alive. Jesus is alive. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
They should have done all of those things. They should have run to tell Peter he was loved and forgiven. They should have run to tell the disciples the good news. Their worry and fear should have evaporated like the morning mist, replaced with joy and delight.
They should have done all of those things. Instead, they fled in terror. They fled as if they were out of their minds. They fled in fear and bewilderment.
Do you think God was disappointed when the women didn’t get it? Do you think God was disappointed when they didn’t understand God’s big joke on death, God’s laugh on the earthly powers who thought they had killed Jesus and silenced him forever? Do you think God was disappointed when the women fled in fear instead of rejoicing with God?
Do you think God is disappointed when we cling to our fear instead of rejoicing with God?
Over and over again, we need to hear the good news of Easter. We need to hear the great news of Easter. No more does death have its sting. No longer do we need to worry about the powers or people that seek to oppress us. God has just shown us in the most visible way possible that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever separate us from God’s unconditional love.
Nothing! Not hardship, not distress, not persecution, not even death. Nothing can separate us from “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)
What more wondrous, amazing, marvelous gift could we ever receive than to be loved?! To know that we are loved beyond measure by the Creator of the Universe, that we are precious and cherished by God most high.
God can do anything, and God chooses to love us!
This news is better than good, better than great. It’s awesome. It’s extraordinary! It’s amazing! When we hear how much God loves us, is it any wonder that we want to burst out in song, have the trumpets play Hallelujah! Shout, dance, and laugh our joy? Yes, laugh our joy.
Some would say that Jesus’ death and resurrection are serious business. Some would say that Jesus’ death and resurrection are no laughing matter.
There is no doubt, that for those of us who follow Christ, the gift of God’s unconditional love, made known to us through Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, is the most essential thing in our lives. It is the core of our faith. It is the rock we cling to in distress. It is our foundation in this all too uncertain life.
We should not confuse important with serious though, believing we must be solemn and humorless about that which is most important, dour and straight-faced about that which we prize most.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). The fruits of the Spirit, the fruits of a life deeply rooted in God, include joy. Even the word “miracle” comes from the same root word as “smile” and “laughter”.
On Easter, God has pulled off the most wondrous miracle. God has done the most amazing thing – raised Jesus from the dead and all of us with him. Through the miracle of Christ’s resurrection, we have been given new life – a new life in heaven and a new life here on earth, a life free of fear and anxiety, a life filled with hope, peace, love, and joy.
And God invites us to smile, to laugh, to rejoice with God at this amazing thing that God has done, this amazing gift God has given to us.
Jesus Christ, the Lord is risen today! Hear the good news of God’s unconditional love. Feel the good news of God’s unconditional love. Let it fill your heart with resurrection joy and delight. Let it bubble up inside of you and spill out into the world:
giving you the confidence to laugh at the time to come;
to smile and be calm in the face of hardship;
inspiring you to be a blessing to others;
all because you know you are loved by the God most high forever and ever and ever. Amen!