April 21, 2019 — Easter Sunday
Rev. Alison Quin
Beyond Our Wildest Dreams
Don’t be fooled by the familiarity of the story. After nearly 2000 years, we have heard the story of Jesus’ resurrection so often that it doesn’t shock us anymore.
But it should.
Just imagine for a moment that someone you love dies, and you bury them and say goodbye. As Christians, we believe in eternal life, but we have no idea what that looks like. All we know for certain is that they are gone from this life, never to return. Imagine then, that person getting out of their grave and coming back in the flesh. A little changed perhaps, but there is that familiar birthmark and that beloved voice. There they are in the flesh—not a ghost or a vision.
It would be truly shocking, wouldn’t it? Most of us would either be unable to process it at all, or else we would be terrified, just as the first witnesses to the resurrection were. But then, what joy and awe and wonder would set in.
It would be beyond our wildest dreams, wouldn’t it?
But God’s starting point is beyond our wildest dreams. Who among us could have dreamed up this universe that we inhabit? The more we explore the universe, the more we realize that there is much more to it, and it is far more beautiful than we could ever have imagined.
Pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope show us beautiful galaxies, star clusters, nebulae. New planets and stars are forming all the time. Earlier this month an array of telescopes from all over the world combined their images to produce the first ever photo of a black hole 55 million light years away. It’s incredible.
Exploring the earth reveals that life here is also beyond our wildest dreams. We are constantly learning extraordinary facts about the living beings on this planet. Lately we seem to be learning how interconnected all beings are. Even trees, which we thought were solitary and silent, are part of a community, and communicate with each other.
This universe was created by a God who is beyond our wildest dreams—a God who is love, who is community, who is the Source of all life. We imagined that death was the end of life, because that was all we could see. But we have learned that there is much more in heaven and earth that we ever dreamed. The God who brought forth life has raised Jesus from the dead as a sign that God has more life in store for us. And not just for us, but for the whole creation.
Jesus’ resurrection is just the beginning. Every time we celebrate communion, we say “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” or words to that effect. When we say, “Christ will come again,” we mean that the resurrection is not only a one-time event—it is an unfolding process that is not yet complete.
We know all too well that there is still violence and hatred and injustice in the world, and we long for a world of peace and justice and love.
Such a world is beyond our wildest dreams. But God is dreaming it for us. And Scripture gives us many hints about what God’s dream for the world looks like.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and blessed them—God’s dream is that we would treat the earth and all its inhabitants as sacred, rather than as resources to be exploited.
God liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt—God dreams that all people will be free and treated with dignity. God is the protector of the poor and the stranger—God’s dream is that we would not hoard our worldly goods, but use whatever God has given us to care for others as our brothers and sisters.
Jesus is the embodiment of God’s dream. He embraced everyone, taking care to reach out especially to those who are rejected by others. His love knows no bounds—he gave his life for us, and forgave even those who crucified him.
But the dream of God is not some far off future reality. We can start living God’s dream right now, by following Jesus in the way of love. We can honor this sacred earth, work for the liberation of all people, love and care for one another.
I love the motto at SUNY Ulster: “Start here, Go far.” I think it is applicable to Easter. Start at the empty tomb, with faith that the God of life is more than a match for evil and suffering and death. And go far as you follow Christ on the path of love into a future that really is beyond our wildest dreams.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!