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					The Rev. Sally S. Weaver
St. Francis’ Episcopal Church -- Eureka
Easter – April 4, 2010

                            Our Easter Faith

      While I was in seminary I discovered the Wild Goose Worship
Group. They are an organization out of Glasgow, Scotland that has
produced some beautiful liturgies, published in a slim volume entitled
The Wee Worship Book. Wee, by the way, is spelled w-e-e, as in
tiny. One of the prayers includes this congregational response, which
is repeated several times:
      Goodness is stronger than evil
      Love is stronger than hate
      Light is stronger than darkness
      Truth is stronger than lies.
That series of statements express why we feel joy at an empty tomb
and why it is so meaningful to say, “Alleluia, Christ is risen.”
      As Jesus hangs dying on the cross on Friday it looks to the
whole world like the Roman empire has won. To the disciples Jesus
was beloved teacher, gifted healer, holy one of God. To the Roman
authorities Jesus was a dangerous dissident. Jesus’ triumphal ride
into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the claim to be “Son of God,” the
title King of the Jews – all of these were acts that defied Roman
authority. It was only Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, who had
the prerogative to ride into Jerusalem to public acclamation. It was
only Caesar – at this time Caesar Tiberias -- who could rightfully
claim the title “Son of God” and King. By any imperial measure,
Jesus was guilty of sedition.
Sally S. Weaver
Easter – April 4, 2010

      What got Jesus killed was his public and frequent criticism of
Roman politics and practices. The Romans didn’t really behave
much differently than any other nation that had conquered and ruled
Palestine over the ages. Roman rule could be characterized as a
system of domination. A few wealthy people controlled most of the
resources, enjoyed the vast majority of the benefits, and ruled the
masses. This is the way civilizations have worked for millennia. A
powerful few make decisions for the hard-pressed many.
      Jesus preached a radically new kind of kingdom, a kingdom in
which justice looked very different than the Roman version. In Jesus’
kingdom the first ended up at the back of the line and the least
received the best seats in the house. In Jesus’ kingdom kings
became servants; those pushed to the margins became worthy of
attention. In Jesus’ kingdom all of Rome’s resources became God’s
resources, intended for the well-being of all of humankind.
      It’s no wonder the Romans executed Jesus as a criminal of the
state. During the course of his tenure as governor, Pilate gave the
order for hundreds, possibly thousands, of Jews to be crucified. In all
probability he didn’t even remember sentencing Jesus, just another
rabble-rouser, to death.
      Looking at history and the world today, it’s easy to wonder if
goodness is stronger than evil. Can we make such a claim in the
face of 6 million Jews being systemically murdered by the Nazis, 1.5
million Rwandans massacring each other, genocide continuing in
Darfur and other areas of Africa?




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Sally S. Weaver
Easter – April 4, 2010

        Jesus took on Rome, spoke out against injustice and
oppression. On Friday, it surely looked like Rome had won. But the
resurrection, the event we remember this Easter morning, reminds us
that injustice does not and will not prevail. Despite every attempt to
suppress it, God’s justice overcomes. Goodness is stronger than
evil.
        Jesus certainly wasn’t the kind of messiah people were
expecting. They’d been promised a king from the line of David. So
they expected a king like David. David slew Goliath and then went on
to kill countless Philistines. Remember the cheer of the women upon
David’s return, “Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten
thousands?” David was renowned for his prowess in battle. He
united the tribes and brought peace to Israel by slaughtering all those
considered enemies. Now there was a leader!
        Jesus wasn’t like that. He didn’t take up the sword, he didn’t
fight the Romans. In fact he advocated turning your cheek to those
who struck you and loving those who hate you. And on Friday it
looked like violence had won.
        When we consider the events of September 11, 2001, the
events of war and terrorism around the globe today, and the rise of
hate crimes on our college campuses, it continues to look like
violence has won. But the empty tomb we celebrate this morning
reminds us that nothing can overcome the sanctity of life. The angel
asked the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Death is not victorious. Love is stronger than hate.




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Sally S. Weaver
Easter – April 4, 2010

      We know that the powers of darkness are strong. Judas
betrayed Jesus in the dark of night. It’s in the dead of night that our
addictions, our obsessions, our fears take hold of us and threaten to
overcome us. But the story of the resurrection reminds us that living
in fear is antithetical to God’s purposes for us. Fear, not doubt, is the
opposite of faith. There is so much in the world to fear, we are
unsure of so much. But the resurrection is God’s great assurance
that God is with us at all times and in all places. There is no place
where God is not. Jesus is the light of the world. “The light shines in
the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” Light is
stronger than darkness.
      Jesus so often turned the world on its head through his stories
and parables. Much of what we believe to be true, Jesus intimates
might actually be lies. We look around and see scarcity; we are
afraid that there’s really not enough. We protect ourselves and our
country with money and weapons and policies that grasp tightly,
defending what we believe belongs to us. And Jesus reminds us that
despite the rhetoric of political pundits and power brokers, God is in
charge. God gifts us with life and desires for all of humankind life
abundant. Resurrection reminds us that God’s gifts are for sharing,
not for safeguarding or hoarding. When the 5 loaves and 2 fish were
shared, thousands were fed. Resurrection promises that truth is
stronger than lies.
      As most of you know for 4 years I served as the chaplain to
teenagers at Lakeside juvenile detention center. While each child’s
story was special, the basic outline was the same. These children



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Sally S. Weaver
Easter – April 4, 2010

had been abused or neglected. The came from fractured families
where drug abuse, domestic violence, and incarceration had typically
been the lot of the adults in their lives. Most of these kids had never
entered a church. And yet, over half the population of the detention
center showed up for the worship service I offered each week. The
prayer that I’ve been describing in this sermon was one of the
teenagers’ favorites. Even though they had suffered at the hands of
adults who were supposed to love and care for them, they knew that
in God’s kingdom goodness was stronger than evil. Even when they
found themselves caught up in a web of gang violence and street
fighting, they knew deep in their souls that love is stronger than hate.
Even though they had lived all of their young lives in circumstances
that felt dim and shadowy, they knew that light is stronger than
darkness. Even though they had often managed to navigate their
way through life using deceit and falsehood as a survival tactic, they
believed that truth is stronger than lies. And so we can boldly
acclaim:
             Goodness is stronger than evil
             Love is stronger than hate
             Light is stronger than darkness
             Truth is stronger than lies.
      At Easter we remember not Jesus’ suffering under Roman
authority, or disappointments with fickle followers, or frustrations with
thickheaded disciples. We remember Jesus’ love that transcends
space and time and life and death. That powerful, amazing truth –
that Jesus died and is risen – overshadows all the evil, hatred,



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Sally S. Weaver
Easter – April 4, 2010

darkness, and lies of this world. Such is our Easter faith: Alleluia,
Christ is risen; Jesus lives. Amen.




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