Sermon for the Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. When I hear this nursery rhyme, two questions come to mind immediately. First, why is there an egg sitting on a wall? Don’t eggs know that they are prone to roll off the tops of walls? Second, why are horses trying to put together a broken egg? Horses don’t have thumbs.
Now, Easter Day is not about chocolate or candy or even eggs. But Humpty Dumpty has a few things to teach us on this holy day. And the first lesson is probably the hardest. All of us, regardless of who we are, or who we pretend to be, will take a great fall.
A divorce. A disease. A death. Loads of student debt. Bankruptcy. Failure at work, failure at school. The tough part of being human means that we are going to sit on some walls. Walls of marriage, walls of health, walls of achievement. But sometimes, just because we’re human, we will roll off those walls and splat! Humpty Dumpty has a great fall.
And it’s not just individuals that go breaking themselves. It’s the whole world. It’s us. Cataloging the whole history of human heartache is a sickening experience: Auschwitz, Rwanda, Katrina, September 11th, Newtown. Splat! Humpty Dumpty has a great fall.
And so what happens? We want someone to put us back together again. I know it from my own life – when something bad happens, when I go splat! I just want to go back to what I was. We want to go back in time and fix something before we go rolling off a wall and breaking ourselves. We wish we had never married that jerk in the first place. We wish we had never opened up that first credit card. We wish there were no such things as hurricanes. We wish it was still September 10th, 2001. We wish. We wish. We wish for an unrealistic past. But it’s time to face the truth. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
I stand here this happy Easter morning with good news. You will not be put back together again. Let me repeat. The good news is that you will not be put back together again. Even if the horses had thumbs, neither they nor the king’s men could do anything for you. And you don’t want them to do anything for you. Because you don’t want to go back to your old self, and keep falling off that same wall. We need something new altogether.
And it is something new altogether that Mary Magdalene sees on that first Easter morning. While it was still dark, Mary goes to the tomb of her Lord Jesus. And for Mary, Humpty Dumpty has gone splat! She had been healed by Jesus, and now he was dead. We can imagine Mary weeping on her sad, lonely journey to the tomb on that morning. Crying, because her whole life had just rolled off a wall and broken into a million pieces. She’s trying to put together the shattered pieces of her Humpty Dumpty life. And then comes a voice, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”
Mary is so distraught, so focused on the past, wishing that it had never been, that she doesn’t even recognize Jesus. Mary thinks that he is the gardener. Then Jesus speaks her name, and instantly, Mary doesn’t want to be put together again, because God has done something new.
It’s not what Mary expected. On that bright Easter morning, after bursting the gates of death, Jesus doesn’t look the same. Jesus is put together again alright, but different. Humpty Dumpty is not the old Humpty Dumpty, but a new Humpty Dumpty. One that cannot be broken.
That is why we are here this morning. Easter is not about us going to heaven. Easter is about God putting us together again, in a new way. This happy morning means that broken things don’t stay broken. Dead things don’t stay dead. God puts us together again, but different. And better. The promise of Easter is that God takes our bitter divorce and helps us learn how to love again. The promise of Easter, is that twenty-seven victims of violence at Sandy Hook elementary will rise again, with new bodies. The promise of the resurrection is not that God puts us back on the wall to fall again and again and again. The promise of the resurrection is that God takes down the wall – which is death – and gives us a new body – which is immortal. Not the old you, one who is prone to fall off walls and shatter into jigsaw pieces. No. God makes a new you, one that can never die. That is the promise of the resurrection. The promise that on the Last Day, all things will rise again.
But the resurrection is so powerful, so great, so awesome, that it cannot `wait for the Last Day. The power of the resurrection seeps backwards into every day. There is no need to wait until you die in order to live a resurrected life with God. Whatever thing in your life has been broken, God can raise again even now. Now, don’t expect to feel like your old self. Even the King of the Jews was mistaken for a gardener. Yes, you will be raised again at the resurrection on the Last Day. Dead children will be raised from their graves. Broken bodies will be healed, once and for all. That is the great and glorious Kingdom of God that is coming.
But it’s not all about the Last Day. You can start living the resurrection any day. Bitter enemies can live as friends. A heart destroyed by hate, can love again. Each act of healing, each act of forgiveness, each act of love now, is just a foretaste of the Kingdom that is coming to us on the Last Day.
When you fall off the wall, you will be tempted to go to the king’s horses and the king’s men. They will come to you in the guise of self-help books, a quick pill, or some pop psychology. But remember, they cannot put you together again. They cannot heal the sick. They cannot raise the dead. They cannot give eternal life.
When you fall off the wall, go to the empty tomb. And when Jesus sees you crying, everything you will be changed. Especially you. God will put you together again, but new, and different. And forever.