The Rev. Jimmy Abbott
April 17, 2022
Even though Galveston Island is only 27 miles long by 3 miles wide, sometimes I still need some help figuring my way around. Like, I know that Avenues O and P are one way, but which one goes which way? And which one is Bernardo de Galvez? I still have trouble memorizing the order of the streets downtown – Harborside, Strand, Mechanic, Market, Church. So, just like every tourist that comes to town, I’ve become dependent on Google Maps in my car.
I swear, Google Maps is a miracle. I miss that one way street I’m supposed to take, it reroutes and gets me back on track. If they’re resurfacing Broadway, yet again, I can turn down some random street and Google Maps will reroute me. I tried to drive down the Seawall during Spring Break. What a terrible decision. What Google Maps should’ve said to me is, “doofus, don’t take Seawall during Spring Break.” But when I turned off as soon as I could, what it said so nicely was “rerouting.”
This is the Easter message. Again and again, the prophets and saints have called us to follow Jesus, to follow the directions – yet we go our own ways, or the world and all its heartaches just gets in the way. The message of today is that matter what we have done, no matter how far off from God we have strayed, no matter how many time we’ve been caught in a spiritual traffic jam, God will always reroute us home.
That’s where we find ourselves with Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning. Her life as she knew is over. The journey she was on, her journey with Jesus, has taken a turn for the worse, it has gone done the one way street of death. She had thought that she had found her Lord, a Savior, the One who would deliver her people. But all that has changed. Not only has her Lord Jesus been crucified, not only have they laid him in a tomb, but now it seems that they have stolen his body. “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13). She is utterly lost. She doesn’t know how she got here or which way to go.
But as the dawn breaks through the darkness on that first Easter morning, in that garden, we see the great rerouting. In a word, just by calling her name, Jesus reveals himself to Mary. He is not dead, he is risen. Jesus is going to deliver his people, not by fighting but by dying and rising again. Jesus is the Lord, the Savior, the One through whom all things were made and now remade, rerouted. Not even the one way road of death, death on a cross, can stop the love of Jesus. All is not lost. In love, God can always find another way for us.
No cruise ship traffic on Harborside, no construction project on 45 can stop Google Maps. And nothing in this world makes God’s love for you impossible. This is the great hope, and the great love given to us by God on Easter. Saint Paul said it best – “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). You can add whatever detour you’ve had in life to this list. For I am convinced that neither substance abuse, nor loneliness, nor bankruptcy, nor dementia, nor lost pregnancy, nor cancer, nor war, nor lost faith, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We know this is true because not even death on a cross could stop the love of Jesus.
I’m not saying that if you believe in Jesus then your life will be fine. I’m not saying that if you believe in God then your life will always be on track. No. That would just be following the old directions. What I am saying is that God can find a new direction, a new way, when it seems that we have lost the road. We had thought that there was just life and death; but God showed us resurrected life. We had thought there were just friends and enemies; but God has shown us reconciliation. We had thought there was just love and hate; but God has shown us grace. Everything has been rerouted. There is a new way in your life, for whatever obstacle you’ve hit. God will open up a new way to recovery, to companionship, to hope, to healing. The tomb is empty.
We gather here today to celebrate, to celebrate the power of God that can always find a new way home. So today is not just about coming to church and having Easter egg hunts and maybe brunch with your family. Today is neither just about a promise of heaven. Today is about this life, today is a day of expectation. We should expect God to do something for us, we should expect God to show up in our lives and act. We should expect God to make a new way, to reroute us even when we have gotten turned around. We are here today to thank God that in Christ, there are no dead ends.
So as you’re going about your life, one day you will wake up to realize that you’ve turned down the spiritual one way road; or you will find yourself stuck in an emotional logjam like Spring Break on the Seawall; or, like Mary, you will find yourself at the tomb of an old friend; do not lose heart, for Jesus is risen from the dead. Nothing, nothing can stop God from bringing you home. God will reroute your life, the Lord Almighty will reroute you to love. The One who loves you knows exactly where you are, and that One will reroute your life to Jesus.