were you there?
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (Matthew 28:1-10)
Dear beloveds in Christ, were you there? Were you there?
Were you there when the church gathered in vigil on its most holy night to celebrate that Jesus passed over from death to life?
Were you there when God created the universe? God’s spirit hovered over the waters, and, with a single command, separated the waters, making dry land. Order out of chaos.
Were you there when God reached into the mud and shaped humankind out of dust, calling people good, but reminding them that they were created out of dust and to dust we shall return?
Were you there when God asked Moses to part the Red Sea and the Israelites passed safely through walls of water to the other side? Miriam picked up a tambourine and led the women in songs and dances of thanksgiving. “I will sing to Lord, for he has risen up in might!”
Were you there when the prophet Isaiah called on the people to hope and to remain faithful at a time when the nation seemed divided forever?
Were you there when the people heard John the Baptist cry on the banks of the River Jordan? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make the paths straight.’ ”
Were you there when Jesus calmed the storm, walked on water, healed the man born blind from birth, commissioned a woman he met at a well, raised Lazarus from the dead, were you there?
Were you there when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and asked them to do the same out of love? “Do you know what I have done to you? If I, your Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
Were you there when we prayed with Jesus in the Garden, when we fell asleep, and when we woke up, we watched him be arrested?
Were you there when we yelled for them to release Barabbas and called on our friend to be crucified. “Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Were you there when Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Sometimes, it makes me want to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when Jesus prayed for us, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do?” Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when Mary and her friends went to the tomb only to find the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body not there? Were you there when Jesus told Mary not to cling to her? Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell the people to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
Were you there when Jesus ascended to heaven and the spirit fell on us like fiery tongues from God’s breath?
Were you there when the Ethiopian eunuch was interpreting scripture and decided to be baptized by Philip in a puddle on the side of the road?
Were you there when Paul was struck blind on the road to Damascus, and, suddenly, in an instant, all of his tightly-held beliefs disappeared?
Were you there when they broke the ground on St. Christopher’s, when they gathered and imagined all the prayers and laughter and food and fellowship and life sanctified by the spirit that would happen in this place? Were you there when Paris retired and Eric, the associate rector, was called to lead the people of this place to this point Were you there when COVID closed down our buildings and forced us into our homes where we would live and work and raise our family while staying far, far, far away from others?
Were you there?
Were you there on this most holy night when the church gathered in vigil on this most holy night to celebrate that Jesus passed over from death to life?
Here we are. We are in the room celebrating all that has happened. May we always remember that life is short. We don't have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk this way. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind. And may the peace of Christ always be with us as we continue to walk the way together.