In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It’s a crazy thing we proclaim this night – that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.

There are a lot of folks who don’t believe it. I imagine there are a fair number of folks here this evening who don’t quite believe it. But you come anyway. Maybe you come because you hope it is true, maybe you come because you want it to be true, maybe you come to pray that it is true.

And yet, despite all our uncertainty, on Easter we gather by the thousands, by the millions, in fact by the billions around the world, and we do this crazy thing. We proclaim this wonderfully ridiculous, totally improbable, improvable thing – that Christ has risen from the dead, evil and death have no ultimate power, only God’s goodness and love last. This is the good news I cling to, the hope and the promise that lives at the center of my life. I’ve said it before, Easter is literally the reason I can get out of bed some mornings. Many have said that it is only a naive fairytale. But I believe that, as Frederick Buechner once said, “Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream.”

But let’s be honest, resurrection is a hard thing for us to wrap our heads around. It goes against what we expect. The world says – when you are dead, you’re dead. It’s sad but that’s the way it goes. Sure, Jesus was a good man who said and did wonderful things, but he upset some very powerful people and they caught up with him and killed him. Not all stories have happy endings; that’s just the way life is. On Good Friday, that’s certainly what the disciples thought. They loved Jesus, they followed him, they dedicated their lives to him – but now their friend was dead. They were crushed with grief, but they understood that death always has the final word – at least they thought they understood.

No one was more surprised than they were when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came running to tell them that the tomb was empty, and they had seen the Lord. At first, they didn’t believe it; at first, they were just terrified. But it was true. They saw him for themselves, and they testified about what they saw. More importantly, this truth changed their lives to the point that, in the years to come, each of them was willing to give his/her life just to proclaim this good news to others. From the very first days of our faith the resurrection was no mere “idea” for the earliest Christians, no metaphorical story – it was a fact, it was the greatest story ever told and one they believed worth living and dying for.

Sometime ago, I was listening to NPR as I was driving home, and I heard the writer Anne Lamott give an interview about what Easter means to her. She said that Christians are Easter people living in a Good Friday world. That phrase has always stuck with me – Easter people living in a Good Friday world. What does that mean? It means we live in a world that is often difficult and tragic, a world where there is a great deal of death and destruction. Thirty seconds of video from the shooting that took the lives of three children and three adults at the Covenant School is enough to convince us of that. But despite the tragedies that happen in places like Nashville, or the war that is devastating lives in Ukraine, or the diseases that lay low the people we love – we believe that God has not given up on the world. We believe that contrary to appearances, death doesn’t have the final word, God in Christ has the final word.


Being an Easter Christian means holding on to the promise that resurrection changes everything. As Rob Bell once said, resurrection announces that God has not given up on the world because this world matters – this world full of dirt and danger, strife and struggle. Resurrection announces that what we do with our lives matters, every act of compassion matters, every work that celebrates the good and true matters, every fair and honest act of business and trade, every kind word matters because they all contribute to God’s work of redeeming this Good Friday world.1 And because death does not have the final say, none of the good we do can ever be lost, or forgotten, or wasted – it all has its place because the tomb is empty, because of resurrection.

Tonight, is a time to rejoice. A moment to breathe a sigh of relief, a time to rekindle hope. It is a night to reaffirm our faith that God loves us far too much to ever let us go. As Victor Hugo once wrote, “The tomb is not a blind alley; it’s a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight; (but) it opens on the dawn.”

For those of us who claim the message of the empty tomb as our own, who find good news in the promise of Easter, our job is to live in such a way that the miracle of this night can be seen in our lives. Remember, when you forgive your enemy, when you feed the hungry, when you defend the weak – you proclaim the resurrection. When you work to repair broken relationships, when you sacrifice for the sake of others, when you take time to support a friend – you proclaim the resurrection. When you stand up for the truth, when you refuse to compromise your integrity, when you love the unlovable – you proclaim the resurrection. This is our job as Christians – to declare with our lips and live with our lives the hope of Easter in a world, where for many, hope can be difficult to find.

God raised Jesus from the dead as surely as I am standing here – that’s what I believe. And the living Christ walks among us all the time, right now, right here, this instant.

In the words of my favorite American song writer, Mr. John Prine – Just give me one thing that I can hold onto, cause to believe in this livin is just a hard way to go. Well, I’ve found my one thing. The tomb is empty – Christ is risen. Go and find him for yourself, go and bear your own witness. Go and seek him among the living and in so doing you will find yourself and the gift of eternal life as well. Amen.


1 Rob Bell, “Resurrection”


The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith