Sunday, April 21, 2019
The Rev. Kealahou C. Alika
John and Courtney were married here on September 20, 2008. They returned to Maui the following year for a visit and were back on island last week.
In the decade that followed, they welcomed the birth of their son Hutch who is now 7 years old and BJ, short for Benjamin John, who is now 4 years old. Over the years, many others have returned to us here in Mākena - including kama‘āina and malihini families - old timers and newcomers –from other islands, other states, other countries.
It would be fair to say John and Courtneyʻs lives have changed since that September day here in Mākena in 2008 and to say that there will be other changes in the future. There will be many changes.
In time, Hutch and Benjamin and all of our keiki, all of our children will grow up as we grow older. As we look at our children, we are reminded of the excitement and joy of Mary and Joseph when they welcomed the birth of Jesus. Yet we know, in time, Jesus will also grow up and Mary and Joseph will grow older and the early years of joy will turn to sorrow.
Easter is a time when we tell the story of that eventful day centuries ago. We remember how Jesus told Peter and the other disciples of his coming suffering, death and resurrection (Luke 24:19-22). “After healing a child and returning him to his father, Jesus told them that he would be betrayed and executed (Luke 24:37-45). Later, [he] gave his disciples a more detailed account of what was to come (Luke 18:31-34).
Peter and the disciples heard all three of Jesus’ account of what was to come, but by the time the women told them about the empty tomb, they had apparently forgotten what Jesus had told them. They did not believe [Mary Magdalene’s] testimony [or the testimonies of [Mary the mother of James and Salome] that Jesus [had] risen from the dead” (Living the Word, April Yamasaki, Christian Century, April 10, 2019, page 20).
April Yamasaki is an ordained Mennonite minister from Abbotsford, British Columbia. She points out: “The women [did not] remember Jesus’ [words] at first . . . Perhaps the shock [of his death] numbed their senses” (Op. cit.) and they needed to be reminded by the young man they met at the tomb that Jesus was no longer there; that “he [had] been raised” (Mark 16:6).
Throughout his life and ministry, Jesus came to know what we know about our own lives – and that is the great paradox of life is that the only thing permanent is change. It is understandable that the disciples would forget. Everything was changing quickly, too quickly.
“Perhaps,” April Yamasaki adds, “ . . . perhaps when Jesus tried earlier to tell them what was going to happen, the prospect of his suffering and death was too horrible for them to grasp, [and] the thought of his resurrection too impossible” (Op. cit.). It may be that the disciples were concerned about what others thought about them and who among them would be the greatest.
Whatever the distractions were at the time, the disciples needed to be reminded and we need to be reminded about the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. While the sorrow of that day happened over 2,000 years ago, the story has been told over and over again to each succeeding generation.
In a way, the good news we celebrate today is old news. We know the story. We know from the account recorded in The Gospel According to Mark that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome were too afraid and amazed to say anything to anyone.
When Mary Magdalene did go out and told others what she had seen Jesus, they refused to believe her (Mark 16:10-11). Even when he appeared to two of the disciples and they told others, no one would believe them.
It was only after Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and chastised them for not believing, that they finally believed. That’s the story. We know the story.
But the question is this: “Do we know and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus so profoundly that [the story shapes] the way we live each day?” (Op. cit.). April Yamasaki confesses her need to be reminded of the story.
“When someone has deeply wrong me,” she admits, “yet refuses to take responsibility for their actions and ignores the brokenness between us, I need [we need] to be reminded that Jesus was wronged too – and that even his wrongful death was not the end of the story. Instead, he rose in triumph with new life and with healing in his wings.”
“When I have wronged someone else.” she continues, “and am dismayed at my own willfulness and lack of care, when I wish I could take something back but it’s too late, instead of endlessly berating myself, I need to be reminded that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection means forgiveness for all of my failings. By the power of [God’s] Spirit, I receive, [we receive] grace upon grace upon grace to make amends and start over again” (Op. cit.)
When we look at the world around us in dismay and sometimes even disgust, when ignorance and brutality seem to rule the day, we need to be reminded that this is the world created and loved by God – and that Jesus lived, died, and rose again to reconcile the world to himself (Op. cit.).
April Yamasaki celebrated 26 Easter Sundays as pastor of the same congregation. Today marks the 28th year we have been together here at Keawalaʻi.
Over the years many changes have come to Mākena and to the church. Other changes have come in our family life, school life and work life.
People we love have died and others have come to us like Hutch and BJ marking the birth of a new generation. There have been times when it has felt like everything in the world was getting a little too nalu, a little too rough.
While the way we have worshiped over the years has changed, the message has remained the same (Op. cit.). Whatever changes the future may bring, let us remember and proclaim again and again - the always old and the always new story that: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” And we too shall rise.
“E ala ē!” Amen.