Sermon: Just An Any Old Kind Of Day

Scripture: Mark 16: 1-8

Date: April 19, 2015

just an any old kind of dayWhen I was a teenager, like any other teenager, music had a big role in how I looked at the world. And one of my favorite artists was a man by the name of Harry Chapin. Now most of you probably have never heard of Harry Chapin. His claim to fame was taking unusual events and turning them into songs which told the story of that event. So he would write songs about strange incidents that happened to him or that he had heard about. His songs usually turned out to be mini morality plays that concluded with a reflection on life in general. I saw him in concert on several occasions and at times his introductions to his story songs were often as entertaining as the songs themselves. Well at one of those concerts, I can remember him introducing a song that even Chapin fans were not familiar with. But in introducing it he said that it was a song that was the product of a prolonged writers block. That he went through an extended period where the stories just dried up. When he didn’t really experience anything unusual or story worthy. And so he wrote a song about that and called it “An Any Old Kind of Day”. And the chorus went: “It was just an any old kind of day. The kind that comes and drifts away. The kind that fills up easy my life time. The night brought any old kind of dark. I heard the ticking of my heart. Why am I thinking, something’s left behind.”

Now I tend to be a creature of habit. I don’t vary my routine very much. I like to have everything planned out and I get anxious when things don’t go according to plan. When there is an intrusion in my day. So most of the days of my life are much like the kind of day Chapin described in that song. Any old kind of days where I go about the routine of my life, doing many of the same things that I have done so many other days. And sometimes when I get to the end of the day, I go to bed but I struggle to sleep. Because in reviewing the events of the day, I sometimes have the feeling that something is missing, or something got left undone. There is often a sameness about my life. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. And only sometimes are things all that different. Sometimes something happens to make our days different, sometimes in a bad sort of way. But there are also those days when things happen that are not part of the plan but are really good. And Easter is one of those days for Jesus’ followers. Easter is a special day. My Easter memories are of new clothes, and Easter Baskets, and family gatherings, and church services that are unusually crowded. A special day. That’s how it was a couple of weeks ago, right. Wonderful music. Beautiful flowers. Attendance that topped the 1000 mark, maybe not for the first time in St. Luke’s history, but certainly for one of the few times, and the first time since I’ve been with you. Easter is hardly just an any old kind of day in the church. So I wonder why Mark doesn’t get on board with it all. Why doesn’t he understand just how special Easter is? In fact, all of the Gospel writers, at some level, seem to present that first Easter as just an any old kind of day. Here’s what Mark says.

Read Mark 16:1-8

Prayer

Now in the matter of fact way Mark presents it there is a strong element of the ordinary in Easter. Three women going to do an ordinary task. Going to anoint the dead body of Jesus. They had no doubt performed this kind of task before. When loved ones died, the body had to be anointed. Usually the task was performed before the body was placed in a tomb, unless the death happened to be right before the Sabbath was to begin, just as Jesus’ death had. Then they would have to wait until the Sabbath was over. But that was all that made it anything but an ordinary task. And Jewish men died on Roman crosses with a frightening regularity and their bodies had to be prepared. And there was nothing unusual about the tomb of Jesus. It was just a cave, and there were hundreds of caves in the country surrounding Jerusalem. To turn a cave into a tomb, you would simply take a stone that was slightly rounded and big enough to cover the entrance and dig a trench in front of the cave. And then place the stone in the trench. The trench would serve as a track that would allow the stone to be rolled over the entrance of the cave, but also would allow the stone to be rolled away. Because the tomb was only intended to be a temporary burial place. A body would lay in the tomb decomposing until only bones were left and after a long enough time for that to have taken place, usually about a year or so in that climate, the stone would be rolled back and the bones would be gathered and placed in a box and then the box would be buried. In fact a family tomb might have several bodies in it, in different states of decomposition. And so the bodies would be prepared with spices that would aid in the decomposition process and that would also serve as perfume for the decomposing flesh. It certainly was not a pleasant duty, but an ordinary one that these ladies had probably performed before. The only thing unusual about it was that because of the delay between death and the preparation of the body, the stone had already been placed over the entrance of the cave. Mark tells us that this was the subject of the conversation between the women as they walked. But even this must have not been completely unusual for them. They must have confronted the situation before and been able to deal with it, or surely they would have made some provision to have Peter or one of the others come with them and move the stone. In many ways this was just an ordinary day under the Roman occupation. Jewish women had become all too familiar with death. Death was just a momentary intrusion on their any old kind of days.

In his book, The Body of Compassion, Joel Shumann speaks of this when he tells of returning to the mountains of West Virginia to visit a family cemetery. He writes:

On that trip I drove up a mountain hollow on a winding washboard road to visit my grandfathers home place. I parked my truck alongside that road, scaled an adjacent barbed wire fence, and climbed the steep hill to the family cemetery where all my grandfathers kin are buried. And / stood there in that cemetery and imagined all of them pushing up with their strong arms and legs, waiting impatiently for that day, when there will be no more sickness, and no more death, and no more longing. And then, I walked back down the hilI and returned to my life

 

It is surprising to me how quickly life returns to the usual after a death. I was struck how quickly my life fell back into the familiar routine after the death of my mother.

And then have you wondered like me, why it did not occur to these women that Jesus might have overcome death. That something extraordinary might have happened. After all, they had witnessed Him calling Lazarus from the tomb and breathing life into a little girl and stopping a funeral procession by raising the widow’s son. Why wouldn’t He overcome His own death?

But for the women it started out as just an any old kind of day. And then it wasn’t.

Now there is some confusion in the Gospels about what happened when the women arrived at the tomb. Mark talks about the young man clothed in white who greets them with the news that Jesus is raised from the dead. Matthew talks about an earthquake. Luke says they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. John, whose account we read last week, also places the story more in the realm of the ordinary. Mary Magdalene discovers that the stone is rolled away, but she never goes into the tomb. That’s a little odd don’t you think? Instead she runs and gets Peter and John, and when they come to the tomb, they look in and discover that it is empty. But then John says something I find to be so ordinary that it’s really out of the ordinary. John says that when he looked in, he noticed that the burial cloths were neatly folded and placed on the stone ledge where the body had been laid. Isn’t that odd? John implies that the first thing that Jesus did after being raised from the dead was to make his bed. The good Jewish son cleaning up his room before he goes out for the day. Just an any old kind of day. Jesus made his bed. Now last week I talked about how unbelievable it was that according to the Gospel writers, Mary the mother of Jesus was not present at the tomb. But apparently Jesus was expecting her, because He made His bed. Now John was the only one of the Gospel writers that was actually present at the tomb. He is the closest thing we have to an eyewitness and one of the most important details that he relates is that Jesus made his bed before he leaves the tomb. Why is that? Why would John tell us that. Well, perhaps it was because John wanted to tells us that the Resurrection took place in the midst of the ordinariness of life. Now up to this point, it must have been considered an ordinary fact of life, that anything that lives, will eventually die. The Jewish leaders were split on the question of life after death. The Pharisees believed in life after death, but the sadducees believed that all there was was life on this earth. But for the Christian, life after death began with the resurrection, and because of the empty tomb resurrection becomes just an ordinary fact of life. Anyone that dies will live again. We tend to want to set aside the Resurrection as something unique and extraordinary, but the truth is that those who believe in God will live again. That truth is not reserved for Easter, but because of Easter that has become the central truth of our everyday faith. New life comes to us in the midst of the ordinary struggles of our life. It is as natural as Jesus waking in the morning and making His bed before He goes out for the day. Jesus was raised not to redeem just the extraordinary, but to give hope and new life to the ordinary. To come to us in the midst of our any old kind of days. But the problem is that too many of us only know the Jesus of Easter Sunday. The one we greet with new clothes, and special music and beautiful flowers. The one we encounter in the mountaintop experiences of life. We don’t know Him as a God who comes when our beds are ruffled, and our feet are dirty, and our lives are messy. We can find Him in the extraordinary, but when life gets ordinary — when relationships struggle, when our health wanes, when we struggle to pay the bills, when we hurt and grieve, when the walls come crashing in — in the any old kind of days when we have that nagging feeling that something’s been left behind — we struggle to experience the power of the resurrection, to embrace new life in Christ. To be resurrected from the circumstances of our everyday life. One preacher tells of a young woman who related to him how she found Easter in the struggles of her everyday life. He writes:

She worked hard in high school and made good grades. Even though she had come from a difficult home situation, she worked hard because she had high goals. But when it came time for her to go to college, and she applied to a number of schools, she received far too little financial aid to be able to go to any of the schools. So she went to work in a rather modest, dull job. Helpful friends told her, Well, you just have to face facts. It doesnt look like college is in the picture for you.But then she said she remembered Easter. She took a deep breath, enrolled in some night classes at her community college, worked hard, made good grades, and eventually received the help she needed to go on to college. She is today a renowned teacher of young children. Just as Jesus could not be held by the tomb, she was not held by the circumstances of life.

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection in a glorious fashion. The early church celebrated every Sunday as a little Easter. But then on Monday things return to normal. Here we are two weeks removed from our Easter celebration and I’m sure many of you are wondering why I’m still talking about it and why are we still singing about it. Bishop Will Willimon makes the case that Jesus was not raised on the Sabbath. Scripture says He was raised on the first day of the week, the third day after the cross, which according to Willimon no matter how we do the math is really Monday. An ordinary work day. And Willimon goes on to write:

At the beginning of the work week after the rest of the Sabbath, they go back to what they were doing in daily life. Everything was getting back to normal now, after the events of the past violent weekend. And the risen Christ was raised on that day, that ordinary, beginning of the work week day.

Just an any old kind of day. The kind that fills up easy our life times.

And then at least one of the Gospels tell us that after the Disciples saw that the grave was empty, they were instructed to go home. Now surely John was wrong about that. Like I said last week he was an old man when he related this story. His memory must have been faulty. The disciples wouldn’t have just gone home without knowing what happened to Jesus’ body. But, it’s not just John who remembers it that way. Look what Mark says beginning with verse 5: As they entered the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side. And he says to them: Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you. In other words go home and He’ll see you there. Now don’t miss the significance of this. A Jewish funeral would often last for many days. There was a prescribed period of mourning. But all of that changed with resurrection. The women came seeking the dead among the living, but what they found was the living among the dead. Because of resurrection, the question that underlies every funeral is the one Jesus asked in the garden: Why do you seek the living among the dead? And so the disciple’s go home to their ordinary lives.

Now I must confess that I have always been a little puzzled by the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Because it seems to me that the people He would have wanted to go to were the ones who didn’t believe Him. The scribes, and priests, and Pharisees, who demanded his crucifixion. Pilate who, in the end did the politically expedient thing. What a great opportunity to validate everything he had said. To bear witness to the power of God. Go knock on the door of the Sanhedrin’s chamber and show Himself to the High Priest. Go stand in the courtyard of Pilate’s palace. Appear to King Herod. They had been responsible for putting Him to death. They had watched Him die, and yet here He was — alive. Go to the Temple Jesus, and show yourself. Let everyone know that you have overcome even the finality of death on a cross. But that’s not what He did. Instead He went to Galilee — which was next to nowhere. One commentator puts it this way: The extraordinary raised from the dead Christ returns to the ordinary Galilee. And there he finds the Disciples at home. Gone back to their ordinary lives. Peter has gone back to fishing and it’s obvious that three years with the Son of God hasn’t improved his fishing any. He still needs Christ to tell him where the fish are. And Christ himself just does ordinary things. He fixes breakfast. He takes a walk with a couple of disciples. As if resurrection is an everyday thing and Easter is just an any old kind of day. And I suspect that’s the point. Because of what Jesus did in the tomb, something so extraordinary and unexpected as resurrection, as new life, becomes ordinary for the believer. And so Christ is raised, but He is raised into our world, our homes, our Galilee, where we struggle with sin and failure and grief and death, and all of the things that make life ordinary. He was raised to give new life to our any old kind of days. And while we look for Him in the Temple Courts and the seats of government, where he really wants to be is in our homes and in our hearts, our everyday days, bringing new life to those things that sometimes seem like death to us. Things like broken relationships, and bad lifestyle choices, and the grief over loved ones lost. The things that cause us to look back over our any old kind of days and wonder if something is missing, if something has been left behind. The message of Easter is that Jesus is raised into our homes and our lives, and if we let Him dwell there, He will redeem all of the days of our lives. The ones of wonderful celebration and the any old kind of days that make up our lifetime.

In his book, Whispering The Lyrics, Thomas Long writes:

She told me last Fall that her father had died over the summer. It was a hard last week because her father had a stroke and lost his power of speech. “And you know how hard that would be for my daddy. He loved to talk. But his last few days, he couldn’t speak. I never will forget, my sisters and my brother and I were gathered in his hospital room on the last day of his life and we were feeling the pain of his struggle as he tried to communicate with us. Finally he motioned toward my brother as if to say, “Get me a glass of water.” My brother went over to the sink and filled the glass with water and brought it to my father. But he wouldn’t drink it. He motioned as if to say to my brother, “you drink it.” So my brother took a sip. Then my father made a motion, “give it to your sister.” He handed the glass to my sister. And then he motioned for him to pass it to me. And suddenly my brother said, “Oh my. He’s serving communion.” And (in that moment) they knew that neither death, nor life, nor powers, nor principalities, nor anything else in all creation could separate any of us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. And the resurrection became in that hospital room a most wonderful ordinary event.

Those are the kind of days that fill up our lifetimes. We don’t have to go to the garden and peer in the Empty Tomb to try and find the living Lord. Because He is the Lord of our any old kind of days. And we’ll find Him in our homes, and our schools, and our places of work. And we’ll find Him in hospital rooms, and nursing homes, and on battlefields of all kinds. We’ll find Him where ever it is that we dare to look for Him. Stop seeking the living among the dead because new life isn’t just for any day, it is for every day. Every any old kind of day. Let Him fill up yours today.

When I was a teenager, like any other teenager, music had a big role in how I looked at the world. And one of my favorite artists was a man by the name of Harry Chapin. Now most of you probably have never heard of Harry Chapin. His claim to fame was taking unusual events and turning them into songs which told the story of that event. So he would write songs about strange incidents that happened to him or that he had heard about. His songs usually turned out to be mini morality plays that concluded with a reflection on life in general. I saw him in concert on several occasions and at times his introductions to his story songs were often as entertaining as the songs themselves. Well at one of those concerts, I can remember him introducing a song that even Chapin fans were not familiar with. But in introducing it he said that it was a song that was the product of a prolonged writers block. That he went through an extended period where the stories just dried up. When he didn’t really experience anything unusual or story worthy. And so he wrote a song about that and called it “An Any Old Kind of Day”. And the chorus went: “It was just an any old kind of day. The kind that comes and drifts away. The kind that fills up easy my life time. The night brought any old kind of dark. I heard the ticking of my heart. Why am I thinking, something’s left behind.”

Now I tend to be a creature of habit. I don’t vary my routine very much. I like to have everything planned out and I get anxious when things don’t go according to plan. When there is an intrusion in my day. So most of the days of my life are much like the kind of day Chapin described in that song. Any old kind of days where I go about the routine of my life, doing many of the same things that I have done so many other days. And sometimes when I get to the end of the day, I go to bed but I struggle to sleep. Because in reviewing the events of the day, I sometimes have the feeling that something is missing, or something got left undone. There is often a sameness about my life. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. And only sometimes are things all that different. Sometimes something happens to make our days different, sometimes in a bad sort of way. But there are also those days when things happen that are not part of the plan but are really good. And Easter is one of those days for Jesus’ followers. Easter is a special day. My Easter memories are of new clothes, and Easter Baskets, and family gatherings, and church services that are unusually crowded. A special day. That’s how it was a couple of weeks ago, right. Wonderful music. Beautiful flowers. Attendance that topped the 1000 mark, maybe not for the first time in St. Luke’s history, but certainly for one of the few times, and the first time since I’ve been with you. Easter is hardly just an any old kind of day in the church. So I wonder why Mark doesn’t get on board with it all. Why doesn’t he understand just how special Easter is? In fact, all of the Gospel writers, at some level, seem to present that first Easter as just an any old kind of day. Here’s what Mark says.

Read Mark 16:1-8

Prayer

Now in the matter of fact way Mark presents it there is a strong element of the ordinary in Easter. Three women going to do an ordinary task. Going to anoint the dead body of Jesus. They had no doubt performed this kind of task before. When loved ones died, the body had to be anointed. Usually the task was performed before the body was placed in a tomb, unless the death happened to be right before the Sabbath was to begin, just as Jesus’ death had. Then they would have to wait until the Sabbath was over. But that was all that made it anything but an ordinary task. And Jewish men died on Roman crosses with a frightening regularity and their bodies had to be prepared. And there was nothing unusual about the tomb of Jesus. It was just a cave, and there were hundreds of caves in the country surrounding Jerusalem. To turn a cave into a tomb, you would simply take a stone that was slightly rounded and big enough to cover the entrance and dig a trench in front of the cave. And then place the stone in the trench. The trench would serve as a track that would allow the stone to be rolled over the entrance of the cave, but also would allow the stone to be rolled away. Because the tomb was only intended to be a temporary burial place. A body would lay in the tomb decomposing until only bones were left and after a long enough time for that to have taken place, usually about a year or so in that climate, the stone would be rolled back and the bones would be gathered and placed in a box and then the box would be buried. In fact a family tomb might have several bodies in it, in different states of decomposition. And so the bodies would be prepared with spices that would aid in the decomposition process and that would also serve as perfume for the decomposing flesh. It certainly was not a pleasant duty, but an ordinary one that these ladies had probably performed before. The only thing unusual about it was that because of the delay between death and the preparation of the body, the stone had already been placed over the entrance of the cave. Mark tells us that this was the subject of the conversation between the women as they walked. But even this must have not been completely unusual for them. They must have confronted the situation before and been able to deal with it, or surely they would have made some provision to have Peter or one of the others come with them and move the stone. In many ways this was just an ordinary day under the Roman occupation. Jewish women had become all too familiar with death. Death was just a momentary intrusion on their any old kind of days.

In his book, The Body of Compassion, Joel Shumann speaks of this when he tells of returning to the mountains of West Virginia to visit a family cemetery. He writes:

On that trip I drove up a mountain hollow on a winding washboard road to visit my grandfathers home place. I parked my truck alongside that road, scaled an adjacent barbed wire fence, and climbed the steep hill to the family cemetery where all my grandfathers kin are buried. And / stood there in that cemetery and imagined all of them pushing up with their strong arms and legs, waiting impatiently for that day, when there will be no more sickness, and no more death, and no more longing. And then, I walked back down the hilI and returned to my life

 

It is surprising to me how quickly life returns to the usual after a death. I was struck how quickly my life fell back into the familiar routine after the death of my mother.

And then have you wondered like me, why it did not occur to these women that Jesus might have overcome death. That something extraordinary might have happened. After all, they had witnessed Him calling Lazarus from the tomb and breathing life into a little girl and stopping a funeral procession by raising the widow’s son. Why wouldn’t He overcome His own death?

But for the women it started out as just an any old kind of day. And then it wasn’t.

Now there is some confusion in the Gospels about what happened when the women arrived at the tomb. Mark talks about the young man clothed in white who greets them with the news that Jesus is raised from the dead. Matthew talks about an earthquake. Luke says they found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. John, whose account we read last week, also places the story more in the realm of the ordinary. Mary Magdalene discovers that the stone is rolled away, but she never goes into the tomb. That’s a little odd don’t you think? Instead she runs and gets Peter and John, and when they come to the tomb, they look in and discover that it is empty. But then John says something I find to be so ordinary that it’s really out of the ordinary. John says that when he looked in, he noticed that the burial cloths were neatly folded and placed on the stone ledge where the body had been laid. Isn’t that odd? John implies that the first thing that Jesus did after being raised from the dead was to make his bed. The good Jewish son cleaning up his room before he goes out for the day. Just an any old kind of day. Jesus made his bed. Now last week I talked about how unbelievable it was that according to the Gospel writers, Mary the mother of Jesus was not present at the tomb. But apparently Jesus was expecting her, because He made His bed. Now John was the only one of the Gospel writers that was actually present at the tomb. He is the closest thing we have to an eyewitness and one of the most important details that he relates is that Jesus made his bed before he leaves the tomb. Why is that? Why would John tell us that. Well, perhaps it was because John wanted to tells us that the Resurrection took place in the midst of the ordinariness of life. Now up to this point, it must have been considered an ordinary fact of life, that anything that lives, will eventually die. The Jewish leaders were split on the question of life after death. The Pharisees believed in life after death, but the sadducees believed that all there was was life on this earth. But for the Christian, life after death began with the resurrection, and because of the empty tomb resurrection becomes just an ordinary fact of life. Anyone that dies will live again. We tend to want to set aside the Resurrection as something unique and extraordinary, but the truth is that those who believe in God will live again. That truth is not reserved for Easter, but because of Easter that has become the central truth of our everyday faith. New life comes to us in the midst of the ordinary struggles of our life. It is as natural as Jesus waking in the morning and making His bed before He goes out for the day. Jesus was raised not to redeem just the extraordinary, but to give hope and new life to the ordinary. To come to us in the midst of our any old kind of days. But the problem is that too many of us only know the Jesus of Easter Sunday. The one we greet with new clothes, and special music and beautiful flowers. The one we encounter in the mountaintop experiences of life. We don’t know Him as a God who comes when our beds are ruffled, and our feet are dirty, and our lives are messy. We can find Him in the extraordinary, but when life gets ordinary — when relationships struggle, when our health wanes, when we struggle to pay the bills, when we hurt and grieve, when the walls come crashing in — in the any old kind of days when we have that nagging feeling that something’s been left behind — we struggle to experience the power of the resurrection, to embrace new life in Christ. To be resurrected from the circumstances of our everyday life. One preacher tells of a young woman who related to him how she found Easter in the struggles of her everyday life. He writes:

She worked hard in high school and made good grades. Even though she had come from a difficult home situation, she worked hard because she had high goals. But when it came time for her to go to college, and she applied to a number of schools, she received far too little financial aid to be able to go to any of the schools. So she went to work in a rather modest, dull job. Helpful friends told her, Well, you just have to face facts. It doesnt look like college is in the picture for you.But then she said she remembered Easter. She took a deep breath, enrolled in some night classes at her community college, worked hard, made good grades, and eventually received the help she needed to go on to college. She is today a renowned teacher of young children. Just as Jesus could not be held by the tomb, she was not held by the circumstances of life.

On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection in a glorious fashion. The early church celebrated every Sunday as a little Easter. But then on Monday things return to normal. Here we are two weeks removed from our Easter celebration and I’m sure many of you are wondering why I’m still talking about it and why are we still singing about it. Bishop Will Willimon makes the case that Jesus was not raised on the Sabbath. Scripture says He was raised on the first day of the week, the third day after the cross, which according to Willimon no matter how we do the math is really Monday. An ordinary work day. And Willimon goes on to write:

At the beginning of the work week after the rest of the Sabbath, they go back to what they were doing in daily life. Everything was getting back to normal now, after the events of the past violent weekend. And the risen Christ was raised on that day, that ordinary, beginning of the work week day.

Just an any old kind of day. The kind that fills up easy our life times.

And then at least one of the Gospels tell us that after the Disciples saw that the grave was empty, they were instructed to go home. Now surely John was wrong about that. Like I said last week he was an old man when he related this story. His memory must have been faulty. The disciples wouldn’t have just gone home without knowing what happened to Jesus’ body. But, it’s not just John who remembers it that way. Look what Mark says beginning with verse 5: As they entered the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side. And he says to them: Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you. In other words go home and He’ll see you there. Now don’t miss the significance of this. A Jewish funeral would often last for many days. There was a prescribed period of mourning. But all of that changed with resurrection. The women came seeking the dead among the living, but what they found was the living among the dead. Because of resurrection, the question that underlies every funeral is the one Jesus asked in the garden: Why do you seek the living among the dead? And so the disciple’s go home to their ordinary lives.

Now I must confess that I have always been a little puzzled by the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Because it seems to me that the people He would have wanted to go to were the ones who didn’t believe Him. The scribes, and priests, and Pharisees, who demanded his crucifixion. Pilate who, in the end did the politically expedient thing. What a great opportunity to validate everything he had said. To bear witness to the power of God. Go knock on the door of the Sanhedrin’s chamber and show Himself to the High Priest. Go stand in the courtyard of Pilate’s palace. Appear to King Herod. They had been responsible for putting Him to death. They had watched Him die, and yet here He was — alive. Go to the Temple Jesus, and show yourself. Let everyone know that you have overcome even the finality of death on a cross. But that’s not what He did. Instead He went to Galilee — which was next to nowhere. One commentator puts it this way: The extraordinary raised from the dead Christ returns to the ordinary Galilee. And there he finds the Disciples at home. Gone back to their ordinary lives. Peter has gone back to fishing and it’s obvious that three years with the Son of God hasn’t improved his fishing any. He still needs Christ to tell him where the fish are. And Christ himself just does ordinary things. He fixes breakfast. He takes a walk with a couple of disciples. As if resurrection is an everyday thing and Easter is just an any old kind of day. And I suspect that’s the point. Because of what Jesus did in the tomb, something so extraordinary and unexpected as resurrection, as new life, becomes ordinary for the believer. And so Christ is raised, but He is raised into our world, our homes, our Galilee, where we struggle with sin and failure and grief and death, and all of the things that make life ordinary. He was raised to give new life to our any old kind of days. And while we look for Him in the Temple Courts and the seats of government, where he really wants to be is in our homes and in our hearts, our everyday days, bringing new life to those things that sometimes seem like death to us. Things like broken relationships, and bad lifestyle choices, and the grief over loved ones lost. The things that cause us to look back over our any old kind of days and wonder if something is missing, if something has been left behind. The message of Easter is that Jesus is raised into our homes and our lives, and if we let Him dwell there, He will redeem all of the days of our lives. The ones of wonderful celebration and the any old kind of days that make up our lifetime.

In his book, Whispering The Lyrics, Thomas Long writes:

She told me last Fall that her father had died over the summer. It was a hard last week because her father had a stroke and lost his power of speech. “And you know how hard that would be for my daddy. He loved to talk. But his last few days, he couldn’t speak. I never will forget, my sisters and my brother and I were gathered in his hospital room on the last day of his life and we were feeling the pain of his struggle as he tried to communicate with us. Finally he motioned toward my brother as if to say, “Get me a glass of water.” My brother went over to the sink and filled the glass with water and brought it to my father. But he wouldn’t drink it. He motioned as if to say to my brother, “you drink it.” So my brother took a sip. Then my father made a motion, “give it to your sister.” He handed the glass to my sister. And then he motioned for him to pass it to me. And suddenly my brother said, “Oh my. He’s serving communion.” And (in that moment) they knew that neither death, nor life, nor powers, nor principalities, nor anything else in all creation could separate any of us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. And the resurrection became in that hospital room a most wonderful ordinary event.

Those are the kind of days that fill up our lifetimes. We don’t have to go to the garden and peer in the Empty Tomb to try and find the living Lord. Because He is the Lord of our any old kind of days. And we’ll find Him in our homes, and our schools, and our places of work. And we’ll find Him in hospital rooms, and nursing homes, and on battlefields of all kinds. We’ll find Him where ever it is that we dare to look for Him. Stop seeking the living among the dead because new life isn’t just for any day, it is for every day. Every any old kind of day. Let Him fill up yours today.

© 2020 St. Luke UMC
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