You know how caterpillars become butterflies . . . the progress and metamorphoses from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis to a butterfly? A process that is both beautiful and staggering.
I want to be utterly honest with you from the outset: that's not what we're talking about today, in church, on Easter Sunday. It's nothing like that. Not even close.
You know how a tiny seed, pushed underground begins to grow? With a little water and sun, it emerges from the earth and unfolds into a glorious and fragrant bloom. Good stuff, eh? You go, God!
That's not what we are talking about here, this morning, on Easter Sunday. It's nothing like that. Not even close.
I know you know about New England's seasons: our hot and humid summers, our glorious autumns (however brief), our long and frigid winters, our brief but delicious springs . . . any of which can be walloped by a Nor'easter ... Flooding, damaging, road ruining, basement filling rains, hip deep snows, wild winds, flashing lightning and rolling thunder.
Arizonians have no idea how exciting life can be.
We New Englanders bend to the seasons and their cycles trusting in the rotation and succession of one season after another . . . seasons of birth, life, death, birth.
I just want to be crystal clear: that is not what we are claiming here today in church on Easter.
Let us be completely clear: the Easter story falls outside of the rhythms and cycles of nature.
Easter morning is the story of the God who is not limited by the laws of nature. Easter is the story of the God who wrote the laws of nature, who conceived the laws of nature.
Easter is the story the God who invented gravitation, concocted thermo dynamics and energized photons.
Easter is the story of the God who conjured the chrysalis and mapped out metamorphoses.
Easter is the story of the God who staged the steps from germination to root, to shoot, to leaves to flowers.
Easter is the story of the God who ordained that when you die, you die. The body quits. The life goes out of you. It's over. Done. Kaput! Ended.
Easter is the story of the day 2000 years ago when said to God's Self: "Laws are made to be broken . . . even Nature's Laws".
Easter is the day, the very day, God went ahead and broke the laws of nature.
Resurrection is an outlaw. Resurrection is unnatural.
Caterpillars into butterflies, seeds into flowers . . . these are natural. These participate in nature's cycles and seasons . . . like the annual migration from Fenway to Florida, and Florida to Fenway . . .
These are natural. These conform to the physical laws of God's design . . . laws of nature …stages and seasons and cycles . . . metamorphoses and migrations.
Resurrection is different. Resurrection is unnatural.
I will not patronize you by suggesting that the event by which time is divided, the event that has been the wind in the sails of the church for two millennia, is anything at all like the transition from chrysalis to butterfly . . . because it is not.
I will not patronize you by suggesting that the event that gave to Martin Luther King Jr. his uncommon courage (and today, by the way, is the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. King) . . . the event that gave to Mother Theresa her exceptional strength . . . the event that gave to St. Francis his gigantic gentleness, and to Desmond Tutu his incomprehensible kindness . . . the event that inspired Handel's magnificent Messiah ... is anything at all like the transition from seed to flower or chrysalis to butterfly . . . because it is not.
Don't get me wrong. I love butterflies as much as the next person. Butterflies are beautiful. How many of you have laid eyes upon one of the prizes of the Amazonian Rain Forest: the Blue Morpho? Electric, metallic, shimmering, iridescent Cobalt blue. Large. Dazzling. You go, God!
But resurrection isn't like that. Not even close.
Ask Mary. Staring the resurrected Jesus straight in the eyes, she didn't see it was he . . . because it was incomprehensible to her that he, who had died, could be alive again.
Resurrection is a law-breaking, sense shattering, logic confounding, mind messing, death defying outlaw.
Ask the disciples who ran and scurried and doubted. They unraveled, they came apart at the seams after Jesus died. They blew it. The friends of Jesus blew it. All four gospels agree that the disciples went to pieces after Jesus died. The Gospels tell of confusion, bewilderment, disbelief …because it was incomprehensible to them that he, who had died, could be alive again.
They came around. They came to. Which is why we are here. They came to accept that resurrection is a law-breaking, sense shattering, logic confounding, mind messing, death defying outlaw.
Once you accept that resurrection it can do for you what butterflies cannot . . . not even the Blue Morpho.
It can give to you the courage of a King, and the strength of a Theresa, and the gentleness of a Francis, and the kindness of a Tutu and the wild hope of the early church.
If you are anything like me, you want some of that. And you want more of that, for our world.
So, welcome to this ship of fools whose sails are filled with pirate winds . . . unnatural winds, God's law-breaking, tomb-bursting, death-defying, courage-inspiring winds . . . the winds of Christ's resurrection.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!