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Sermon
The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunday
March 27, 2016
 
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

"We had hoped,"
the two disciples told Jesus.

"We had hoped that (this Jesus of Nazareth)
was the one to redeem Israel."

But, on their distraught and disappointed walk
out of Jerusalem toward Emmaus,
they concluded
it is hard
--impossible, really--
to redeem Israel
when the redeemer is
betrayed by his own follower;
subject to rigged trial;
tortured;
crucified;
dead and shut up in a tomb.

Worse still,
three days later,
gone.
Replaced by an angel
telling an unbelievable tale
of a living redeemer
who is nowhere to be found.

It wasn't simply that Jesus of Nazareth was ineffective.
As far as these two disciples are concerned,
and the host of disciples associated with them,
their hopes and dreams
for the future,
for their future,
the future of Israel
are
shattered.
Stamped out.

Their work and their convictions
about their nation, their people, their God
all for nought.
Everything they had poured themselves into
not simply lost, but wasted.

Better to cross the border out of their chaotic Holy City.
Head north.
To a more peaceable land of friends and family.
Serene landscapes.
A good place to wait it out.
Until a future redeemer
--if a future redeemer--
can be found.

"We had hoped that (this Jesus of Nazareth)
was the one to redeem Israel."
Hoped so much we
gave it a day.
Two.
Three.
Since he was dead.

Time to face the facts.
Cut our losses.
Move on.
Before we're dead.

We know this road.
Or, we worry about knowing it.

We've poured ourselves into hopes and dreams.
And have seen them disappear before us.

For some of us,
that's what life seems to be over and over again.

For others of us,
it happens every once in a while.
Rocking us.
Shaking our very core.
Attacks on communities the world over.

The persistence of racism in our cities and out in the country.

Intransigence of our elected representatives,
those who seek high office,
and those who report on them
to do anything about anything
other than feeding division and discord.

The struggle to make it in this City.

Long, hard hours,
a life-time of practicing and commitment to our art forms.
And a society that seems less and less
interested in anything of value.
Sells us for $.99 on iTunes.

Yet readily, and almost gleefully,
poisons the planet to make Billions.

We have hopes and dreams,
for us and for our city, our country, our world.
Hopes and dreams
for our children and our children's children.

And sometimes, often times,
they seem futile.
Behind us.
Wasted.

We wait for redemption.
And find only people who want to take from us
and from our hopes and dreams for society,
but do nothing
to invest in it,
to make it,
to craft it,
to help it thrive.

God in Christ Jesus does not walk away from such distress.
Does not abandon those disciples on their walk.
Does not turn away from us in our times of trial.

Quite the opposite.
God in Christ Jesus is found precisely
in shattered hopes and dreams.
Found in struggle and in sorrow.
For God in Christ Jesus is found even on a cross.
Yes, even in death.

On that road
--that distraught and disappointed walk
from Jerusalem to Emmaus--
Jesus interprets these things
beginning with Moses and all the prophets.

These things we count as loss,
as the beginning of new life.

These things which seem to suggest
there is no redemption,
as precisely those moments where redemption begins.

For if
Turmoil.
Struggle.
Even death.
Cannot stop God.
It cannot stop us, either.

That may be hard to believe.
In fact, it may be close to impossible to believe.
I suppose redemption and resurrection
wouldn't quite be redemption and resurrection
if we could easily comprehend it.
Easily see it.

We know it took the disciples a little while longer.
Unit they sat down at table, together.
And broke bread.

And that's the point of the breaking of the bread.
This broken body of Christ.

With it,
we live into a life where we are not afraid
of shattered hopes and dreams.
Beginning with those two disciples,
down to us,
the church is not afraid of disappointment,
not afraid of brokenness,
not afraid of death.

No.
We believe that by speaking of these things.
By being honest about them.
By holding our struggles in community
with one another and God,
hope is re-born.
New life emerges.
Our lives,
the lives of others
are redeemed.
The city is redeemed.
Our communities, our world is redeemed.

Yes, even Israel.
Not by power.
Or privilege.

But by holding our vulnerability.
And giving ourselves to each other.

Not by coercion.
Or triumphalism.

But by honesty.
And service.

Not by making money off of each other
or stripping our planet of its life.

But by giving ourselves away.
And conserving natural resources.

This sort of living didn't look like resurrection and redemption
to the disciples then.
And it surely doesn't always look like it to us.

We seem to prefer divisive rhetoric.
Entertainment.
Never want to face our troubles.

But this we know,
this we know in the breaking of the bread.
Over and over and over again.
Waiting.
Watching.

Tears give way to joy.
Old life to new.
Death to resurrection.

Faithful in the breaking of the bread,
we are,
the whole world is,
redeemed.

For, Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jared R. Stahler
Saint Peter's Church
In the City of New York

THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD
EASTER EVENING - JAZZ MASS
March 27, 2016

Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 114
1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Saint Luke 24:13-49