Sunday May 4th, 2014
Christ is Risen!
That meal was amazing! What an amazing baseball game! The way she plays the piano is amazing! God is amazing!
Hmm. It doesn’t seem right to say that something like a baseball game or piano playing is amazing and then also say that God is amazing. Those things are not even in the same league as God. Not even close, yet we use these words to describe God, as well as other things.
We’re so limited in our vocabulary, in our thought and in our compression of how amazing God really is.
Often times we have questions about God that just don’t seem to have answers. For example, “How did God come to be?” How do we answer such questions?
Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s pretty enlightening; A wise priest once asked me to describe what an Orange tastes like. I laughed and said, “I don’t know. An Orange. Citrusy?” “You see,” he said, “If you cannot describe what an Orange tastes like, be ready to say that you don’t understand everything about God, because if you did, you would be God and God would be uninteresting.”
Amazing. What small minds we have compared to that of our creator. Absolutely amazing. And yet, we’re told not to be amazed at the site of the empty tomb. The Myrrh Bearing Women, whom we read about in today’s Gospel lesson, go to the tomb and the Angel sitting there tells them, “Do not be amazed.” He points to the empty tomb and says, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, He has risen, He is not here.” What he means is, “Don’t act surprised.”
A man, their friend and teacher, just rose from the dead, and he says, “don’t be amazed.” Well when you think about it, Jesus did exactly what he said he was going to do. He did exactly what prophecy for hundreds of years said he was going to do. The resurrection of Christ is what the entire world was waiting for, whether we knew it or not. So why would we be surprised, we knew this was going to happen, didn’t we?
Jesus is not just a man, He is the God that we believe in. And while it was hard for Christ the divine man to be beaten, mocked and crucified, things contrary to his Godly nature, it was not hard for him to rise from the dead. Because He is life.
We often use amazing to mean “awe-struck,” rather than “surprised.”
So I must confess, I’m still amazed; in awe that is. I’m not in awe becaue Christ rose from the dead, because I know God can do all things, things that are otherwise impossible. What I am truly in awe about is that God could love me that much, a stupid, selfish sinner; someone who turns away from Him often to do my own thing. That God would willingly go through the agony of being mocked, spit upon, beaten and crucified by the ones he came to save and still rise from the dead because He loves even the ones who did those things, that much. I that’s amazing, that’s awesome. But for God, it’s the only natural thing to do, because as we read in 1st John, “God is Love.” (4:8).
Today is the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women. We really don’t read a whole lot about women in the Bible, however, one of the many reasons why I love being Orthodox is because we have many Christian woman role models including the biggest figure you see behind the altar, (the Theotokos) and because today, the second Sunday after Pascha, is dedicated to women.
These women were amaz…wonderful. There is a little bit about each one in this week’s bulletin. One thing that we find in today’s Gospel is that they had great faith. There is a point at which they ask each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” The stone was giant and heavy. They didn’t expect to roll it away. That would be impossible. Yet they pressed on and went anyway. There was a strange expectation among them, that though they saw this as a real potential problem, it didn’t stop them from going; as if it would somehow be taken care of. And it was. Except Christ wasn’t in the tomb.
After the Angel invited them into the tomb to see for themselves that it was empty, he told them, tell the disciples that He is going before them to Galilee. Just as he had said He would(Mark 14:27-28). Why Galilee and why does he say before them? This implies that they were all already planning to go to Galilee. Galilee was where many of them were from. After Christ was crucified, they hid, and probably planned to go home. The mission was over. It seemed like a failure, what now were they to do. So the Angel told the Myrrh Bearing Women to tell the disciples that Christ will see them at home. But what did they do? They didn’t tell anyone, because they were afraid. So the disciples went home and found Christ there.
Christ promised to go before them. Before us, before us in pain on the Cross, before us in the darkness of the tomb, and before us in the glorious resurrection of life. This is our path, taken first by our God, so that we could experience life. It also rings true this very day when you leave church. Don’t leave Christ here. He goes before us to our homes, always loyal to us, always caring for us, always with us.
Amazing! I think it’s fair to say that we use the word “amazing” in different ways depending on what we’re referring to. Based on our limited comprehension, God is amazing, there is no way around it. Nothing is more amazing than God.
So I’ll probably continue to be amazed, awe-struck, by God’s glory, but I shouldn’t be surprised by it.
Christ is Risen!