Keawalaʻi Congregational Church
United Church of Christ (USA)
Sunday, April 8, 2012
The Rev. Kealahou C. Alika
Lynn Johnston’s comic strip “For Better or For Worse” appears in The Maui News every day. If you had a chance to see it on Friday you will recall the interaction young Michael has with his mother.
“Why are you looking so thoughtful, Michael?” she asks noticing him looking out the living room window at the sky.
“I think it’s sad that Jesus died – that’s all,” he answers.
“He had to die, Honey. He died to save us all from our sins,” she explained.
To which Michael issues a mild protest, “But, Mom! I haven’t done anything!”
Our children always remind us of how easy it is for adults to look at the worst of a bad situation. It may be that we learned that lesson over time in Sunday School or in the school yard or at home.
Like Michael, I imagine most if not all of us remember occasions when we have issued our own protests of innocence whenever we found ourselves accused of a wrongdoing. Our objections, however vehement, depended on the tone of the accusation.
Growing up here in Hawaii we know that could mean a number of things.
“Ah-Yah!” someone would sigh. Now that wasn’t too bad; a simple infraction. Nothing to worry about.
Or “Ah-Yah! You going get it.” That was a little more serious. A reprimand was sure to follow.
Or “Ah-Yaah! You no mo’ chance!”
It is as though someone were saying, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
Now there are variations to the “Ah-Yah.” On some of our islands, folks will say “Ha-Lah.” On most of our islands there is the more elaborate warning and finger-pointing, “Ah hana ku ka lele, you broke my ukulele.”
I imagine for Michael, Jesus’ death was sad because he was aware of how much Jesus loved others. I imagine he may have even thought that Jesus died, not because of our sins, but because Jesus loved those whom others despised and for that reason, he was killed.
As final as death may seem, we know that our journey through this season of Lent has come to an end this morning, not at the cross but at the empty tomb! So, “there is no need to fear life or death or anything else. All we need to do is to go and tell others about the resurrection.” (From Death to Life: Devotions for Our Journey from Cross to Empty Tomb, Dr. Rich Bimler, Creative Communications for the Parish, Fenton, Missouri, 2012, page 32)
We go as the women did, back to our families and friends, “with fear and great joy.” (Matthew 28:8) Some say the women were not afraid but that their fear was one of awe. After all, they were the first to witness the inexplicable miracle of the resurrection.
But I imagine they still felt a level of fear, afraid of the ridicule and resentment of what the men would say to them. Whatever the case may be, it is evident that the resurrection did not take their fears away. Instead the resurrection empowered them to face their fears. Like the women who were at the empty tomb, we know the Living Lord is with us! (Op. cit.)
Writer Dr. Rich Bimler tells the story of parents who asked their little girl one Easter Sunday, “What did Jesus say when he rose from the tomb?” The little girl stood up, stretched her arms out and said, “Ta-Da!”
Bimler said, “This story reminds me that my fears so often focus me more on ‘to-do’ list, what I need to get done in this life for the Lord. But what I should be focusing on more is the Ta-Da of Easter, what I need to celebrate and enjoy in this life, thanks to resurrection.” (Op. cit.) We need not live in the fear of “To-Do” or “Ah-Yah,” but in the joy of “Ta-Da!”
The truth is because he lives, we can face tomorrow. Because he lives, all fear is gone. We know he holds the future and that life is worth the living because he lives.
You see - He is not here. He is risen - and now lives in the hearts of all who receive him. What joy, indeed!