Chocolate Chip Cookies, Wet Ducklings, Hungry Hummingbirds and the Resurrection
A Sermon for Easter Day April 5, 2015
The Rev. T. Stewart Lucas
As the elderly man lay dying in his bed, death’s agony was suddenly pushed aside as he smelled the aroma of his favorite homemade chocolate chip cookies wafting up the stairs.
Gathering his remaining strength, he lifted himself from the bed. Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with intense concentration, supported himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands. In labored breath, he leaned against the doorframe, gazing wide-eyed into the kitchen.
There, spread upon the newspapers on the kitchen table, were literally HUNDREDS of his favorite chocolate chip cookies! Was I heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?
Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table, landing on his knees in a rumpled posture, one hand on the edge of the table. The aged and withering hand quivering, made its way to a cookie near the edge of the table; feeling the warm soft dough actually made the pain of his bones subside for a moment. His parched lips parted; the wondrous taste of cookies was already in his mouth; seemingly bringing him back to life.
He reached for another cookie. What then, was this sudden stinging that caused his hand to recoil? He looked to see his wife, still holding a spatula she has just used to smack his hand.
“Stay out of those cookies!’ she said, “They’re for your funeral!”
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”
But they didn’t. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, the original Steel Magnolias fled in terror and amazement and they didn’t tell a soul.
It’s not the perfect ending. Other folks followed Mark and thought this depiction was too hard. They even wrote other endings to his gospel and tagged them on years later trying to put a bow on the Resurrection package. But I think Mark meant to end it right where he did, right in the middle of the story.
The women thought it was all finished. They just went back to do what they normally did, paying respects to the earthly body of their beloved Jesus. Sometimes after a long ordeal, after suffering from a terminal disease or the end of a relationship you are relieved. It is normal. What the women found though was not what they expected. And now what?
“Their fear reminds us that the good news of Christ’s resurrection is not simply reliable news to be taken for granted. It is a truth so shocking that even the first people to hear it cannot imagine how to tell anyone else.”
In one of my devotional readings this week “(a woman) describes stopping by the side of a road to observe the rescue of a family of ducks. After holding one wet, tiny duckling in her hands, she remembered that just as life is full of little deaths, it is also full of little resurrections. She says:
“We think that resurrection, when it comes, will come with trumpets and earthquakes and angels perched on stones. But sometimes it’s not one big death, but a thousand small ones that bury you. You are witness, too, to the small resurrections that come as a flutter of life, so tiny you can hold in your hand. (And when you stand up dripping mud and maybe tears, you will find it’s not just another life that’s been saved, it’s your own.)”
A flutter of life. That’s a good way to know we’ve seen resurrection. That’s a good way to tell someone about the Resurrection. When you see a tiny flutter of life, you are witnessing resurrection.
“Everyone is an amateur when it comes to making sense of the Resurrection.” It wasn’t just the women who were terrified and amazed. I suspect it is us too. What if we pause for a minute and put ourselves beside the women joining our fear and amazement with theirs? He is not here. He has been raised, we hear. “Their story allows us to stand with them, with our doubts and our questions. It offers us an opportunity to talk about our own disbelief, our own amazement, without rushing straight to the celebration.”
There is no shame in pausing to reflect, consider, ponder what we have just learned before we run to share it with others. Some of us have had weeks filled with “Another meeting, another fight, another dead end, another bill you/we can’t pay, another broken relationship” This week we’ve watched a plane be crashed into mountains, terrorism continue its evil and listened to debates about discrimination laws. We come to church today wondering what our faith has to say to the week we’ve had. We come begging God to have mercy on our faults and failings. We come desperate to understand the brokenness in our world or in our lives.
“If Easter brings a message of light and hope, it must speak not just to the petty NEW-SENSE-ES and inconveniences of our lives.” Easter must speak to the very real fears of death, poverty, and brokenness we hold. And it does.
This week my mother texted me “Call when you can.” That’s usually not good news. An aunt or uncle is back in the hospital or she is overwhelmed with her many volunteer jobs at their church in Macon, Georgia. This week it was the later; she was making her famous pimento cheese sandwiches for the funeral reception of the gentleman who had been their head usher since Jesus was born. And all of the sudden I heard a shriek on the other end of the phone! I didn’t know if she had cut herself or was having a heart attack. “He’s back, he’s back!” she said. She had officially lost her mind I thought. My humming bird is back. “He came right to the window, and I don’t have his feeder back up yet. He’s back. It has to be the same one. He remembered. I have to go boil some water to make him some food.” And she hung up. I’m still not sure how she knows that is a boy hummingbird.
In the midst of the week you’ve had, have you seen a flutter of life? In any way, have you witnessed goodness, kindness, compassion or love? If so, you have indeed witnessed the Resurrection. You have gotten a glimpse into the Easter message that he is back full of light and hope. That message is the answer to our questions. It is the antidote to evil and brokenness.
The Easter message, the Resurrection is a set of promises. Promises God makes to us, God’s people. In the Resurrection, God says I promise that death will not win. EVER. I promise there will be a day when suffering and pain will be no more. I promise that love will always be stronger. I promise to draw all people to myself. I promise to make all things new. God shows us these promises all the time…look for the tiny flutters of life. However small, they are indeed great moments of resurrection.
The women at the tomb ran off afraid and quite unsure how to tell anyone else. And now Mark let’s us pick up the story right in the middle. Go to the tomb if you must. Check it out. You will learn something. But look for Jesus in the little flutters of Resurrection all around you. Save a wet duckling, feed a hungry hummingbird or bake some gooey mouthwatering chocolate chip cookies. And then do not be afraid to go and tell. Share the good news. He is not here. He is risen! Alleluia!