April 17, 2022, The Flash of Gold, John 20:1-18 – Mtr. Kathryn Boswell

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This past Christmas, Carroll and I decided to get ourselves a joint Christmas present. And what we decided to give ourselves was a bird feeder. So, in the thick of winter we filled up our new squirrel-proof feeder with black oil sunflower seeds, which are supposed to be very popular, and we trudged out into our snowy front yard, and we hung our new feeder in our bare little crab apple tree. We didn’t have to wait very long before birds were coming by the droves to dine at our feeder – some chickadees, a few cardinals and purple finches, a junco or two, but mostly lots and lots of plain little nondescript, grayish birds. We had so much fun all winter watching the birds dine at our feeder, and we tried to keep it filled up, especially when it got really cold.

With the coming of spring, we kept filling up the feeder with sunflower seeds and the birds kept coming to eat every day. But we started to notice a change in our most regular customers. Those plain little gray birds started to change color. First it was kind of subtle – one day, they seemed to have a greenish-yellowish sort of tinge to them. But gradually it became very clear that their feathers were turning the bright yellow of goldfinches, which is what they are, so that now, instead of drab little gray birds, the crab apple tree is full of flashes of gold, a sure sign that winter is really gone, and that spring has really arrived.

But of course, it doesn’t look or feel very springy out there yet. Yesterday morning we woke up to a dusting of snow out our windows. The sky was gloomy and gray, and there was a little bite in the air when I went out to the garden. Some days it’s almost enough to make you doubt that spring really has come, or to wonder if winter is just going to come roaring back. But we’ve seen those flashes of gold. We believe that spring is here, despite a few setbacks. And so, believing that, we live into the reality of spring. We rake the dead leaves off the garden beds, and we clear the old plants we forgot to clean up in the fall. We go to Agway and we buy seeds and we draw garden maps.

This morning we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is, of all days in the Christian year, the most important, the most joyful, the most life-changing. On this day, we proclaim that our Lord, whose dead body was taken down from the Cross, and wrapped in linens, and embalmed with oils and spices, and sealed into a tomb with a huge stone – we proclaim today that he came forth out of that tomb, alive with a new kind of abundant, incorruptible life – the first fruits of eternal life. On that day the long winter of death was over and done. On that day the spring of creation began. That is our song today.

But you’ve probably noticed that most days it’s still feeling pretty wintry in this poor, tired Creation. We’re all following the daily course of war in Ukraine: homes and whole cities destroyed in a senseless course of aggression and violence and cruelty. So many lives lost, so many people homeless, so much fear and sorrow. And then, it gets lost in the news cycles, but people all over the globe are suffering every single day from war and disease and hunger and homelessness. The political and economic climate continues to be pretty inhospitable in our own country. Not to mention our old friend the Coronavirus, who is still with us. And so many of us have suffered unimaginable losses in our personal lives. So many mornings we wake to sadness. So many nights we lie down with anxiety.

But this morning we see the flash of gold, and we proclaim that Christ is risen! The winter of death and sadness is passing away. Vladimir Putin will not have the last word. Covid-19 and its multitude of variants will not have the last word. Inflation will not have the last word. Governments will not have the last word. Even religions won’t have the last word. That belongs only to Jesus, who is the Living Word. The Resurrection is not a beautiful myth. Like the arrival of spring, it’s a life-changing reality.

And as the people of the risen Lord, that means we live into the spring. Because we live in hope, we do everything we can to help the suffering people of Ukraine. Because we live in hope, we do everything we can to protect each other from the pandemic. Because we live in hope, we bother to recycle and pick up trash and plant trees. Because we live in hope, we take time to reach out to the lonely and the forgotten. Because we believe the spring has come, we go out there and plant – not beans and onions and tomatoes, but kindness and peace and compassion and mercy and healing and hope.

We proclaim today nothing less than this: that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything, forever. Because we have seen the flash of gold, we believe that the long winter of death’s power is ended. Because we believe that the risen Christ will have the last word, we can weep for the pain in the world without despair, we can cry out for justice without violence, we can suffer loss without bitterness. We can wake in hope. We can rest in peace. We can live today, and every day, as people who know that the spring has come.

Alleluia! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! +

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