|Calvary Episcopal Church, Rockdale
April 8, 2007
The Rev. Robert C. Granfeldt
Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed!
So, Easter, at last!
As always, on these most special occasions, I will keep my remarks, this morning, at least a little
shorter than usual – because we are at the end of a long winter and a long lent, and a long week, as
well, capping it all off: Holy Week. And Holy Week has been, as always, both a wonderful week and a
horrible week: as it is intended to be – remembering the worst week ever – and the best!
I just wish more of us could take part fully in Holy Week! It is such an incredible experience, when we
actually live it, vicariously, through our liturgy – even though a pale shadow of the week lived by our
Lord! We began the week last Sunday as I remarked that we were entering into the greatest drama of
the year – reliving the most dramatic week in world history! It’s a drama that tells a story unmatched by
any other ever told – real or fiction – and the Holy Week liturgies, supporting our own, private
devotions, give us a unique way of entering into the experience!
A week ago, what we were beginning seemed, in its origin, as if it would be a great week: the pageant
of Jesus entering the great city of Jerusalem like a king! He presented himself as a new KIND of king,
indeed, but a king, still – riding not on some great steed – a charger, nor in a great war chariot – but
on a young donkey – an ass – that had never been ridden, delivering a signal that he was a new kind
of king, coming to turn everything upside down!
With the “establishment” aware of his arrival, and already plotting against him, Jesus “beards them in
their own den,” as I said the other night, entering into the Temple precincts and driving out the
moneychangers and the sellers of sacrificial animals. With his disciples still believing that he was the
one who had come to redeem Israel in the long-expected way – by leading an uprising in rebellion
against the Romans, and establishing a worldwide empire by conquest – he goes about his business,
teaching and healing and harassing the powers both of Rome and of Jerusalem – while his enemies
work out their plan. And with our liturgy opening to the “Hosannas” of the palm procession, we
segued, quickly, into the Passion Narrative, foreshadowing what the week would become.
On Thursday, finally making their move, after Jesus has eaten the Passover meal with his followers,
leaving them with the memorial of his own Body and Blood, and with the help of a betrayer, Jesus is
taken on trumped up charges, in an early form of Church/State conspiracy; and that night, at the end
of our Service, we emptied the Chancel, leaving it bare to remind us of the emptiness that is coming:
emptiness of the world!
Through the night and the next day – Good Friday – Jesus is tried, convicted, tortured and executed!
And those – his followers – with such great hopes and dreams are now left with nothing; and our own
Good Friday observance, through which we witness all of it, ends in silence, with no blessing, no
dismissal: just… nothing.
And Holy Saturday comes, as I have remarked, before, as an empty feeling day, with no liturgy at all.
This year the newscasters seem to have caught on – or perhaps a memo went out to them with the
“catch-phrase of the day” – because they seem all to have been calling it, “the quietest day of the
Christian year.” And that, indeed, is what it is – for throughout that day, our Lord is absent!
And then it all changed, just as suddenly and as unexpectedly as it had happened in the first place,
2,000 years ago! From despair, to perplexity, as the women come to the temporary tomb where Jesus’
body had been laid over the Sabbath, to prepare it for permanent burial, and find no body, but two
strange “men” in “dazzling apparel” – followed by awe and wonder as the risen Lord becomes
manifest, in the hours and days, following – and the world is never the same, again!
And the world CAN never be the same, again! In the Resurrection, Jesus bridged the gap, finally,
between God and man, so that from now until the end of the ages, there can never be a time, or a
place, or an event in which God can’t be found by those who know to look. And those who look far
enough will find that all paths ultimately lead to Jesus Christ, and in him, to forgiveness and healing
and wholeness, in the love of God. Which makes our cry Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed!
And now we’re going to stage the very last part of the drama of Holy Week and Easter. We’re going to
take a baby, little Mikya Lynn – an innocent newborn: new to drama; new to the world – and we’re
going to symbolically (because that’s what good drama always is: symbolic re-enactment of profound
events and experiences) and liturgically return her to the water from which she was birthed, the
water that gave her life, that gives all the world its life – and at the same time, the water that the poet
calls, “the little death” – and then lift her again from the water, in the twin drama of, at the same time,
birthing her again and raising her from the waters of death into new life – the new life of the
resurrected Christ, her new living Lord, and ours.
How’s that for drama?
It does make for a long week.
But when we put it all together, it adds up to not only a long week, but a long life – the long life of
eternity in the presence of the Lord who died for us and lives again – our risen Lord, Jesus, the
And that’s enough drama for a lifetime!
In the Name of the same risen Lord. Amen.