Here are perhaps some of life’s most important questions. What is the speed of dark? When you’re sending someone Styrofoam, what do you pack it in? How come you never hear about gruntled employees? What’s another word for synonym?
So often we don’t know that what we’re doing is a big deal. It’s tough to know which moments are decisive for us.
You know it’d be great if we could have a soundtrack for our lives. You know music that would tell us we’re in danger, or we’re at a high point in our lives, or what’s coming up is going to be funny, or we’re meeting the most important person of our lives.
Like in Chariots of Fire. You remember that movie. Now why can’t we have that when we’re getting all dirty exercising and wearing ourselves out? Wouldn’t life be so obvious?
Sometimes it’s obvious. You know, the big things in life almost come with their own music or express life in biblical images, like the birth of your first born child that blast opens a part of your soul and rolls back a stone over your heart that you didn’t know was sealed shut until you saw his precious, amazing face.
Or when the love of your life walks into the room and into your life for the first time. Her beauty, ringed by light, strikes you, and you hear your guardian angel announce, “She’s the one.”
Sometimes our lives are shaken to their core, and angels sit on top of the stone that’s rolled away in order to give us directions. This is how the resurrection was for Matthew.
For Matthew, Easter is an earthquake with doors shaken off tombs and dead people walking the streets, the stone rolled away by the power of the tremors, and a forceful and glorious angel sitting there talking and pointing the way. Matthew’s resurrection shakes the world.
When God rocks your world, you had better pay attention. Let go of everything else and hang on because something is going to rise. Your life will start again. It’s time to come out of the old and into the new.
But too often we want a little bitty seismic rock and roll with our resurrection so that we can have the world as it was yesterday. We want to have Easter and still have our world unrocked by resurrection. We want some excitement to go with our security.
This was not the game Matthew was willing to play. For him, if something isn’t getting messed up then someone isn’t getting resurrected.
If you don’t get blown away by what God’s trying to do in your life then you’re not dealing with the Lord. If you’re not struggling to keep up with God’s transforming power then you’re falling behind with what God wants you to do. If the Lord isn’t asking too much from you, and if you’re not sure if you can come through, then you’re not acknowledging your fault line.
There isn’t anyone here who isn’t living life on a fault line. Your fault line probably isn’t your neighbor’s fault line. But you’re on one.
You’re spouse’s or partner’s fault line isn’t the same one you have but you’re both standing on your own.
See, we all want to act like it’s all just fine. Just give me the keys to run things in my life and in your life, and everything will be just fine. We’re oblivious to the cracks in our personalities and the shifting sands in our souls.
Listen when someone calls you on your faults. They’re pointing out your fault line. Be kind to someone when they’re giving you the gift of letting you know you’re standing on a trouble spot. They’ve been sent by God to lend you a hand.
Christ talked about those who built their lives on shifting sand and those who built their lives on rock. The truth of course is it’s not really an either or deal. Nobody is all sand nor is anybody all rock. But the Lord wants nothing more than to set you more and more on solid ground.
Get yourself off the sand. Do whatever it takes because it’s tough to hold on to all the good things God’s placing in your hands if your life is standing on sand.
One of the hard things in life is to realize quickly that the person who’s turning things upside down right now isn’t you. It’s not so easy to realize you don’t have to get involved. Just because someone else is acting out of their fault line and standing on sand and making a mess of things, doesn’t mean you’re supposed to get off your rock and join them in a sand box fight.
Stop throwing sand. Get back to where you belong, where the Lord can use you to do some good. When you have to deal with someone else’s weak spots, realize that it’s as tough for him or her to acknowledge their weak spots as it is for you. For some people, it’s even tougher.
Forgive them. Pray for them. Bless them. Don’t make fun or belittle them or complain about them. Be patient. Find your way to compassion. Don’t judge others so that you won’t live under the same judgment. Walk more spiritually in the world and through the lives of others.
Many times it’s almost impossible to know what’s going on with them, sort of like the taxi passenger who leaned forward and tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the sidewalk, and stopped inches from a shop window.
The passenger apologized and said, “I didn’t realize that a little tap would scare you so much.” The driver replied, “Sorry, it’s not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver. I’ve been driving a funeral hearse for the last twenty-five years.”
See, it’s just not possible to know all the time what the other person has gone through.
Our scripture reading this morning is very interesting, but not just for the reasons we talked about. The truth is Matthew is a little on his own in his portrayal of resurrection morning. Luke and John think there’s something more important to point out.
In Luke’s Gospel, Easter is a meal shared with the Risen Christ and his disciples Sunday evening, a calm time of bonding and strengthening. John has the resurrected Christ encounter Mary Magdalene in the garden, a one-on-one experience in which devotion to the Lord is joined with the directive to go and begin to witness that Christ is alive.
They’re definitely stressing something different than Matthew.
A lot of folks are looking for that unmistakable act of god in their lives. When that happens then they’ll know it’s God and they’ll get going. In the meantime, they’ll go about things as they see fit. But as Luke and John just tried to show, God doesn’t always move in big ways.
When the prophet Elijah had run away and hid himself in a cave in order to escape from Queen Jezebel’s death threat, God came to him not in a tornado and not in a fire, but in a still small voice. But so powerful was this small voice that Elijah wrapped himself in his coat and hid behind it.
God isn’t going to thunder at you. The Lord prefers to tap us on the shoulder and say, “Are you sure you want to do that again? I’ve got something better for you. If you will just lean on me a little bit longer I will take you there.”
The Lord’s usually working behind the scenes. Stay in faith. Keep leaning forward. Listen to the still small voice.
Someone will say, “I’ve done that but nothing’s happened.” God isn’t finished yet. The Lord hasn’t accomplished all the good that’s planned for you. Don’t expect an earthquake every time the Lord does something.
Someone else will say, “I used to have more faith but somewhere along the line I lost it. I don’t know how to get it back.” Continue to keep your head up, continue to do good to others. Act as if you have faith, and you will see your faith rise again.
Faith is a faucet that can’t be shut off completely. There’s always a drip, drip, drip occurring. Take a drink again.
There’s no way we can figure out everything about our lives. There’s so many ways to take a wrong step, get caught in a trap, lose our focus, think thoughts that hurt us. It’s not easy to keep leaning forward when it feels like there’s such a strong head wind against you.
But the Lord isn’t finished. Don’t give up. Don’t settle for what was. Get ready for what will be because God refuses to end with a negative. There is victory with the Lord. The fullness of God’s blessings are ready to be poured out on you.
Don’t turn away. Keep building your life on solid ground so you can carry all the blessings God is sharing with you.
And remember, the Lord was crucified, dead, and buried. But on the third day he rose again.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
Can the church say Amen!