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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jesus and the Giant Bunny

2016-03-27 Lk 24:1-12 Jesus and the Giant Bunny


Yesterday we had our church Easter Egg Hunt and it was a blast. So many children. So many plastic eggs. Thanks to Church Events Committee. Thanks to our Youth Group for being Bunny Temps. I thank you. The Easter Bunny thanks you.

When you do Egg Hunts, you learn stuff. Like, don't put chocolate in the eggs. Chocolate melts. If it's a warm day, the kids look like they've been drinking from the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral.

Another thing you learn is that six-foot-tall bunnies are terrifying. The Easter Bunny really needs to do his business and disappear. We had one year when a child witnessed the Easter Bunny playfully shoving their parent. Two weeks of nightmares. Another time, the Easter Bunny wore Chacos – on human feet. Three months of therapy. Then there's the obligatory photo shoot. Sometimes it's cute. Sometimes not. Google "Awkward Easter Photos." It will haunt your dreams.

There's a fine line between Easter and anguish. You learn these things at church. What better place? It's the way Easter's always been.




The Bible tells us the first people who saw the empty tomb – were "perplexed." Really? I find math perplexing. The Presidential race is perplexing. The first Christians weren't perplexed. They were messed up. Dumbstruck. Speechless. Traumatized. Tombs do not just go empty.

So the angels appear. That helped. The Bible says, then, they became "terrified." Thanks, O-angels.

We forget that, don't we? Empty tombs and Easter angels are not sweet and fluffy. They're terrifying. In the thesaurus, "terrifying" and "wonderful" are right next to each other. [1] But getting from terror to wonder is like jumping across a canyon. Or a black grave.

Think of the scary things you've made yourself do. "Yea! I went parachuting!" That's what you say AFTER you land. Spiders. Horrifying. But spider webs are gorgeous. You see something scary the first time – you know, like, when you're a kid – and it makes you cry, have nightmares. But you go over it enough times, and when you're all grown up, you smile. "How could I have ever been so silly?" We teach ourselves to shake our heads and smile at what scares us. Why? So we can sleep. Despite the spiders.

The Apostles did it preemptively. They hear the women tell about the tomb and the angels and, the Bible says, they dismiss it as, "an idle tale." And they believe them not. Ignorance is bliss.

Look, I'm not saying we ought to spend Easter morning terrified. Easter's a happy day. Now. We've done Easter so many times. We've squeezed it into plastic eggs. We've so bunnified the scary parts that there's no hole in our guts between terrified and wonderful.

"Hey, it's Easter! We're saved!"

"Let's go to lunch."

That's OK. It's just a very privileged and secondhand way to look into the tomb.




How do you get from fear to faith? From gut to head to heart? How do you go from wondering to wonderful?

When your child wakes up screaming in the night. When your little girl has her heart broken. When someone you love hears the doctor say the wrong thing. You can't explain it away. It's not time for explanations. It's time for angels. You hold your child, your love. You rock them, you remind them, "It's gonna be OK. I'm here. We're scared, but we're gonna make it."

When the angels appear in the tomb – and pause for a minute to think about how weird those words are – when the angels appear in the tomb, what do they do? What do they say? Listen to it:

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee....

We know the story too well. But the first Christians didn't. They were scared out of their minds.

What's the angels' command?


Remember how he told you.

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again."

And then what happened? Did they dance? Did they sing, "Hallelujah!"? 

No. It says:

Then THEY remembered

Then they remembered his words.

They went, "Ohhhhhhh."

…and then look what it says next:

and returning from the tomb.


They went home.

I've never been down in a physical tomb and I don't want to be. It sounds like a dark, scary, terrifying place.

It doesn't say, escaping from the tomb. It doesn't say, leaving the tomb forever. It doesn't say, forgetting the awfulness of the tomb. It says returning from the tomb.

I have a feeling those women spent the rest of their lives returning from the tomb. Sometimes, I'll bet they felt like they'd made it all the way out for good. But sometimes I'll bet the darkness felt very close.

The Christian life is a life of returning from the tomb. Daily. Every morning the returning-from starts over. From despair to hope. From weak to brave. From scared to reminded. Every day we've gotta remind ourselves. Sometimes angels dressed like normal people do.

But God's not finished yet.

Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb,

Then what? It says, then…

they told all this to the eleven and to ALL the rest.

…They told the eleven and all the rest.

You see, it's not enough to remember and return. Our part in the Easter story – and we each do have a part – our part in the story is to remember, and return, and to tell again - to re-tell.

Remember, return, and re-tell.

Repeat. Every day.

The women take over the angels' job, don't they? They return from the tomb and start re-telling the eleven and ALL the rest what Jesus said. They return to re-tell what they've been reminded of.

Do you think they only had to do it once? One and done? How many times do you have to hear something unbelievable before you believe it? And remember it? Men, how many times do you have to be told something before you remember it? Women, how many times do you have to say it before a man remembers it? I'd bet the numbers are not the same. But that's another sermon.

Remember, return, re-tell. Repeat.

It takes time. Salvation may happen at once, but it starts anew every morning. That's how God works. That's how we do it for each other. That's how we get from trauma to trust. From scared to safe. 

"Remember? It's gonna be OK. I'm here. God's here. It's weird, it's hard, but we're gonna make it."




If you have a hard time "getting" Easter, fear not. You're in good company. Not a single one of the first Christians got it, either. They had to be reminded. And then they returned to so-called normal life. And they told and re-lived the memories pretty much every day.

Jesus came back. And scripture says he kept coming back – in the most amazing and mundane and scary places. He still does. Surprise. That's the way God works.

Easter reminds us. Easter returns us to the core of faith. Easter re-tells us that not even death can separate us from the salvation of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now it's our turn. It's our turn to be the women, the eleven, the ALL the rest. It's our turn to go out and tell and re-tell. That this bad news is really good news in disguise.

There ought to be no giant bunnies that make us cry and want to hug our savior's knees. But even accidentally, and sometimes intentionally, there are. There ought to be no tombs we can't crawl out of. But sometimes there are. The shocking promise of Easter is that these are the times to look for angels. These are the times to BE angels for the terrified and the traumatized. These are the times of Resurrection.

Remember. Return. And re-tell.

Rejoice. You are proof that the Easter story goes on.



[1] http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/terrifying?s=t

[2] https://books.google.com/books?id=AZzaAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=thaumazon&source=bl&ots=nfdTL_wzAn&sig=mt61sJmcGF9TNDVpRKFsnBWE0vc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiCstaAv9nLAhUE5yYKHfurDnE4FBDoAQg7MAs#v=onepage&q=thaumazon&f=false