I always know that when Paul Jeanes preaches, I’m going to hear a sermon that speaks to me. I believe we may be kindred heretics, the word some folks use instead of prophet. A prophet is one who has been divinely inspired to speak truth, one who has been granted a power to express a depth of insight that is beyond what we see or hear everyday. It is not a statement about the person but rather about a gift, and one that is not always welcome (“no prophet is welcome in his hometown” Luke 4:24). The prophetic voice speaks to us in a way that turns our long held beliefs upside down and inside out. And like the prophet, the heretic is one who puts forth a provocative way of understanding that is not necessarily at odds with orthodoxy, but may actually make it more accessible to the outcast.
The prophetic words we heard this morning were scandalous! We were told that Easter is not about what we believe. What an odd message to preach to the faithful on Easter Day! Paul went on to say that today, Easter, is actually about what God believes.
Our belief doesn’t make one bit of difference in the redemption story. It doesn’t happen because we believe, it all happened because God believes in his creation! The gospel is, in fact, scandalous good news. In the incarnation God tells us that he isn’t in this thing half-heartedly, he’s all in, he will live our life, he will sit with us when no one else will. God sits with the despised, the unclean. He keeps company with tax collectors, women, the ill and possessed. Christ says I believe, I give my heart to you, I will live your life.
If we have to choose, is it more important for us to believe in God or for God to believe in us? God tells us today that he believes in life over death, in hope over despair, in light over darkness. As much as we may want to, we can’t always believe – we can’t always believe that there is hope in the face of our despair. Paul went on to suggest that when Jesus was laid in the tomb on Good Friday, it wasn’t an empty tomb. All of us were already in the tomb. We were in the darkness, in death. And on Easter morning, when Jesus comes forth out of the tomb, he is telling us to get out of the tomb as well. Out of darkness, out of despair into life, into hope.
Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!