Monday, April 12, 2004

The Easter Homily

This year marks the fourth time I have preached on the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ. The last three years have been nice homilies, in that they were meant to stress the comforting aspect of the feast day. But this year I changed my homily. I started with the "standard" nice homily but then I threw in the punchline. The punchline is if you really believe that Christ is risen from the dead, then you must change. If you believe He is a corpse, then don't change a thing. I wonder what kind of impact it will have.

So many people visit a church on Easter Sunday and somehow they think that this is enough to maintain the relationship with Christ. Or perhaps it is because they are simply doing what they think the common expectation is, namely, you are supposed to go to church on Easter. I am not trying to make a judgment. I am trying to see things the way these visitors might see things.

In years past, I have thought that to bring these people back you must coax them. I am starting to change my mind. For someone to return to Faith, I think you have "sour the milk." Just as in animals, the pastor must encourage gently the movement toward maturity of Faith. Screaming at them is not going to be effective and I understand that. At the same turn, coddling and acting like this is an ideal situation does no good either.

The Resurrection opens a new horizon, a vertical horizon. It causes us to lift our eyes and hope that the death of now is only a coda in the symphony of life. In the Resurrection, that's all death would be. A pause before the music swells and fully comes to its revelation.

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