Victory: Notre Dame and Easter

He is Risen! (He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!)

THAT is our proclamation this morning, but it is also our proclamation every Sunday when we gather.  It is our constant reminder that Christ has been raised victoriously.

This Holy Week begun with the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in France and a picture of destruction laying before the altar and the golden cross behind it has been featured on news and social media.

This imagine has been shared as a ‘miracle’ and the question ‘how can one not believe in God after seeing this picture’. I have a friend raised in a Jewish family, but identifies as atheist shared a version of the post that noted it was a wood fire that would not have burned hot enough to melt the gold.

Thus, there is a scientific and natural explanation, but I think that God most often works within natural law and order for God’s purposes.

I commented on her post: “True, but it is an amazing image especially for Holy Week”.
She simply replied “agreed”.

It is a powerful image for this week.

Last Sunday, we celebrated Jesus as our teacher, prophet, Messiah, and King entering into Jerusalem.

According to scripture, Jesus went to the Temple chasing people out of it, turning over the tables of the money changers, and teaching that it had been transformed from a house of prayer into a den of robbers.

Jesus may have or the story may be embellished, but Jesus must have grabbed the attention of the religious elite who spent the rest of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday seeking to entrap Jesus.

Thursday, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples who received the “New Commandment” not to love our neighbors as we love ourselves but as Jesus first loved his closest disciples. But Thursday also concludes with Jesus betrayed with a kiss by one of those disciples.

Friday was Jesus’ trial, his passion, his crucifixion, his death, and his body laid in a tomb.

Saturday was the sabbath, a day of rest. The women would have been unable to anoint Jesus’ body, but they had made the preparations.

The disciples, including the women, spent Saturday in darkened rooms fearful that they may be arrested and executed next. They were scared and grieving the lose of their Messiah, who was to save them.

At sunrise (Sunday), the women went to the tomb believing that evil had won.
And yet, the women were met with a different message:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He has been raised, as he told you that he would be.”

Often our world and our lives are full of destruction.
Lent, the 40-day journey leading to this Easter celebration, is about reflecting on:

  • What is in that rumble?
  • What has caused the rumble?
  • What distracts us from God and neighbor alike?

Similar to the destruction before the altar and cross at Notre Dame.
The causes of death are not simply those that cause our physical, bodily death.

Signs were on the bulletin boards asking people to note what distracts them from their neighbors and God alike. The responses included:

  • Anxiety;
  • Worry;
  • Keeping Busy for the sake of Thinking about Other Stuff;
  • Despair; and
  • Loneliness.

But, we could add bearing witness to hate in our world which causes us to question:

  • Will hope and love win the day?
  • Can life-giving relationships with one another and God withstand the destruction in our world and lives?

These are not easy questions to wrestle with, and yet, these are essential of us.

Because, Easter is a celebration today, a season of seven Sundays, and a reminder every Sunday of the year that through the ashes, the destruction, and the rumble:

  • God ALWAYS shines forth,
  • Hope ALWAYS wins the day,
  • Love ALWAYS conquers hate, and
  • Life ALWAYS conquers death.

So, as we go forth this morning proclaiming the infamous words, I will ask you to share again, may we keep in mind that no matter the rumble God through the cross always stands tall, always shines through, and always has victory as we proclaim:

He is Risen! (He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!)

Scriptures were Isaiah 65: 17-25; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; 1  Corinthians 15: 19-26; and Luke 24: 1-12.
Originally preached on 21 April 2019 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).

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