Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sermon: "Sensing the Sacred: Easter Sunday", Matthew 28:1-10 (April 12, 2020--Easter Sunday)

(This is the eighth and final sermon in our Lenten series, "Sensing the Sacred". 
The others can be found herehereherehereherehere, and here.
This message was a part of a larger worship service created by the Presbytery of Boise.)


This Lent, Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church has been exploring the ways we experience the sacred through our senses—smell, sight, taste, sound, touch, and thirst (since there are six weeks of Lent, I had to get creative and branch out from the traditional five senses). Since Christ was fully human and experienced life the way we do, there was plenty to explore in Scripture through our senses. We read about Nicodemus’ inability to see what Jesus was trying to show him, the thirst of the Samaritan woman, the touch that healed the blind man, the smell of a newly-resurrected Lazarus, the sound of the crowd on Palm Sunday, and the taste of the bread at the Last Supper. And on Good Friday, we immersed ourselves in the difficult sensory experience that is Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. 

I contend that our senses are the primary way that we discover truth in the world around us. The philosopher Plato would disagree: his famous “Theory of Forms” insists that the things we experience through our senses aren’t “real” but are merely reflections of a higher, ultimate reality. I’m no philosopher, but as a theologian, I’d say that Jesus does a pretty impressive job of blurring the lines that Plato worked so hard to draw. Jesus brought the spiritual and divine to earth in a tangible way, so that we might experience the higher truth of the divine through our mortal physicality. And I don’t know about Plato, but I’m not going to argue with Jesus. 

The Easter story is filled with ways that humanity experienced the reality of God’s truth through their senses. Picture the Marys arriving at the tomb, thirsting desperately for their beloved rabbi and friend, and being overwhelmed by the sensory overload that awaited them. They heard and felt an earthquake; they saw an angel whose face was like lightning and whose clothes were like snow and heard his heavenly voice; they smelled the pungent aroma of the myrrh and aloe on the burial cloths, but without the odor of death that they expected to encounter. When Jesus met them on their way to tell the disciples, they grabbed his feet, overwhelmed with the desire to touch him. They didn’t just hear the Good News; they fully experienced and embodied it in every possible way. 

This Easter Sunday, don’t just hear the Good News—SEE the Good News in the celebration around you, TOUCH the Good News in the embrace of your family members, SMELL the Good News in the freshness of spring, TASTE the Good News in the nourishment that God gives you, and most of all, continue to THIRST for the Good News…because this is only the beginning. He is risen—he is risen indeed! Amen.

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