iPad or Easter

John 20:1-18 Colossians 3:1-4,12-17

Easter 2014 by Ken Dale

A week ago last night Kathy and I went to a fundraiser for the cancer center where she works.? Earlier that morning I was at the kitchen sink when Kathy came over and stood next to me proudly holding her new iPad.? She spoke to it ? ?directions to the Elks Club in Waterville? and the iPad, in a very nice sounding male voice replied as information appeared on the screen, ?I?m finding quite a few Elks Clubs but none in Waterville.?? I?m not a techie by a long stretch but I was almost a bit jealous ? this well informed iPad voice sounded like a pretty nice guy.? It was amazing how apparently one could carry on a conversation with an iPad?? It is amazing how quickly and how far technology in that realm has come.? This past week I watched a story in the news about a father and son and the Boston marathon ? perhaps you saw it too.? The now 50 year old son has had Cerebral Palsy since birth and his now 72 year old Dad has pushed him in his wheel chair in the marathon for the past 30 years. ?Last year was going to be Team Hoyt?s last marathon but they were stopped before they got near the finish line because of the bombings ? so they are doing their last marathon this year.? The son was able to speak through this high tech device in a small box mounted on his wheel chair.?? Pretty amazing when technology can enable things like that.

I was intrigued to learn if you do a Google search it actually responds to you personally based on what it knows of you from prior searches.? So you and I may Google the same thing and get different responses ? which is sort of saying it actually has a little control on our perception of things.? Last September Time magazine ran a cover story on how the internet giant Google was launching a venture to extend the human life span.? Their new endeavor is a company called Calico, which is expected to use its skill with handling data to make new discoveries about age-related illnesses.? Can Google solve death?? Just imagine ? a business that already offers search engines that know you, on-line advertising, mobile-operating systems, web-browsers, free e-mail, driverless cars, wearable computing, online-maps, renewable-energy, and remote internet access via high altitude balloons ? solving death.? If death is the puzzle ? can Google solve that puzzle?? Technology ? I am amazed with it – I don?t understand it and could never begin to explain it, but I do know/understand that it can be explained.? It is a science.

On that first Easter morning an ordinary woman named Mary Magdalene rose early in the morning when it was still dark.? She is burdened with great grief at the death of her friend Jesus ? a beloved teacher who suffered cruelty and the worst violence humanity could dish out resulting in his senseless death on a cross.? One can only begin to imagine what her walk in the dark was like and when she reaches her destination all she expects to see is a tomb with a corpse in it. Instead she finds the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb has been moved. ?So she runs back to Peter and an unnamed disciple we can figure is John.? She tells them, ?They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.?? And the race is on ? Peter and John run and our gospel report actually says that John outran Peter and got there first.? He bent over and looks in to see the linen wrappings but does not go in.? Peter arrives and does go in and then John follows.? The tomb is empty and the two disciples return to their homes leaving Mary standing weeping outside the tomb.? We have heard the story and hopefully it is familiar to us all.? We know that after seeing two angels she actually encounters the risen Jesus.? She ends up going back to the disciples and the gospel report is simply that she announced, ?I have seen the Lord.?

Did you ever wonder about that?? Is that all she said?? Could it have been she told the whole story?? Something like, ?I have seen the Lord, but I didn?t recognize him at first.?? ?I have seen the Lord but at first I thought he was the gardener.?? In many of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection it seems people don?t recognize him at first..? I wonder if he didn?t look quite the same somehow ? or maybe he deliberately kept people from recognizing him at first in some mystical way. ?We don?t know.? All we know are these reports in the gospels that he is encountered in some very powerful and very real way.

The challenge of the resurrection is there are no witnesses to what happened and it just doesn?t make any sense with what we know about physical human life on earth.? The resurrection is strictly between Jesus and God ? no one can say just what happened there.? There are no witnesses.? So ? do we believe it?? Are we convinced of the reality of the resurrection?? For many of us I would guess, our ever growing and expanding scientific world view gets in the way of our faith.? We cannot explain the mechanics of the resurrection.? Over the years I?ve had quite a few parents of young adolescent children express concern that their children are struggling with the whole God thing ? the creation story doesn?t quite line up with what?s being taught in school.? Wouldn?t resurrection pose a similar dilemma?? We can?t take a dead body into a lab and add heat or light or whatever would be needed and replicate the resurrection.? So if we are to believe ? we can only do so by faith.? Unlike the technology behind the iPad ? it cannot be explained ? we can only accept it by faith.? But if we leave the mechanics and move on to the meaning what happens?

What if we go with resurrection faith?? The resurrection declares that death and despair cannot, do not, and will not have the last word.? The killing power of the forces of human nature that brought Jesus to his death did not have the last word.? God?s love is more powerful than even our human capacity for hatred, violence, and destruction.? The resurrection proclaims that life is more powerful than death, that love is more powerful than hatred, that goodness is stronger than evil.

I cannot help but wonder if there is a better and more timely illustration of that proclamation for us on this Easter Day than the city of Boston, MA? – resurrection powered faith if you will.? Just think of the city of Boston the day of the marathon last year and all that has gone on during the past year leading up to tomorrow?s annual marathon.? The day those bombs went off causing all the destruction of human life that they did ? so many people ran into the destruction to help instead of running away.? Their presence made a difference in the midst of all that pain and suffering.? So many of the people who lost limbs have spent the last year recovering and reclaiming their lives.? There were various wonderful and inspiring news stories this past week of people who lost limbs.? I remember seeing one woman who lost both legs in the bombings and she had ?still standing? written on her stubs.? Like others she is now getting around and getting back to life with prostheses.? Individual lives changed in major ways ? but that were not overcome, not destroyed.? On a larger scale even the whole city has been united in a new way.? What a wonderful transformation has occurred all captured in the simple phrase ?Boston Strong.?

The lives we live individually and together as family, as church, as community, as nation, as a world ? death and despair will be part of the journey ? but the message of the empty tomb and of Easter faith is that death and despair cannot, do not, and will not have the last word.? Death loses and hope triumphs and life and love prevail.? All thanks be to God for ultimately it is God?s love that has the last word.? So then, as Paul writes to the Colossians ? clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bear with one another, forgive each other, and above all clothe yourselves with love, and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.? These are the clothes of Easter faith that can only be worn in real life and in relationships with others.? So may we strive as we seek to live out that faith.???? Amen.