Rev. Del Staigers
The story is told of two old rabbis who were sitting together talking one day. One of the rabbis was a very old man with a lot of experience, while the other was young and still learning insights of being a rabbi. The old rabbi kept testing the younger rabbi's knowledge by asking him questions. The final question on this particular day by the old rabbi: "Was the world better off before or after the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden?" Without hesitation the young rabbi blurted out, "That's easy, the world was better off before the fall of Adam." The old rabbi sat and stared at the young rabbi, and in a calm, but firm voice said, "No, the world was not better before the fall of Adam. The world is better after the fall of Adam because now we have a God who comes to look for us!"
Now we have a God who comes to look for us.
Today, Christians around the world celebrate that life has meaning. We celebrate that life is redeemed. We celebrate that to be human is to be good because when we are most ourselves, when we are most fully human, it is then that we recognize God.
Today we celebrate that it is never too late to begin again. By the resurrection of Christ, the Father says to Adam, "I love you." To Peter, who denied Christ, "I love you, Peter. Now let's start over." And poor Judas didn't understand that he could start over. He just couldn't figure out that Christ forgave him, even if he couldn't forgive or accept himself. And to each of us the message is the same: "I give you new life because I love you. I am the God who comes to look for you."
Today's celebration challenges us to move from FEAR to FREEDOM. We are challenged to move from a relationship of fear to a free, life-giving relationship of love. We are asked to believe that even in spite of sin, evil and darkness, the world is better off because now we have a God who comes to look for us.
Isn't it true that we are all formed by our past and, very often the fears of the past control us? But Christ invites us to put all that behind us. Christ invites the person who has any history of abuse to find new freedom. Christ invites the person with the struggles of an alcoholic in the family to put that past fear behind. Christ invites the person who feels worthless to put the past behind and move away from fear. Christ invites the teenager or young adult to give up the fear of failure or rejection. Christ invites people suffering with illness to move from fear by knowing that God suffers with us.
Jesus is the God of real people, who live real lives, and have real joys and sorrows. I used to visit an elderly woman in a nursing home. She never opened her own mail. She would have a nurse open it and read it first. If it was bad news, the letter got thrown away, without the elderly lady ever seeing it, saying that she had enough bad news in her life as it was. If it was good news, the nurse gave it to her to read.
Easter allows us to face the Good News and the bad news of our life. God is there through it all, just as God was with Christ through it all.
Life. Death. Resurrection.
Today's feast invites us to move from fear to freedom, from the past to the present, from winter to spring, from death to life. Jesus invites you and me to come out of our own tombs into the light of His life.
In the end, all of this is fairly simple: nothing can separate us from the love of God -- not time, not space, not even death. Since God was faithful to Christ, God will be faithful to us.
Is the world better off before or after the fall of Adam? After, of course, because now we have a God who comes to look for us. In fact, in Christ, we have a God who lives with us. Jesus has already rolled the stone of our tombs away.
All that is left for us to do is to come out . . .