“by Fr. Travis O’Brian”
Easter Day April 16, 2107
MENDING ALL THE BROKEN THINGS
Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Let me begin with a heart-felt welcome to everyone this morning. Often, we are blessed with Easter visitors, and so whatever has brought you here this morning, whether this is the fourth or fifth time you have been in Church this week, or whether this is the fourth or fifth time you have been in Church your entire life – we are glad you have come to celebrate Easter together.
Easter day, the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, is the hub around which the Christian life turns. Like the spokes of a bicycle wheel, every circumstance of our lives, our every relationship and responsibility, our every hope and every grief, every strength and every frailty, in fortune or misfortune, health or sickness, new opportunity or the tedium of just another working day – every part of our lives ought to be supported and shaped by Easter day, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God created the human race for delight – God’s delight in us, and our delight in God. God created the human race to be the voice thanksgiving for the whole of creation; to celebrate Holy Communion with God in all we do. That is our purpose and our vocation and our joy: to be co-workers with God in the work of shaping and loving and blessing. But we find ourselves far from living out this purpose. We find, rather, that we are broken in a thousand thousand different ways. And we find that we live in a world that is broken in a thousand thousand different ways. Far from living in the joy of Holy Communion, we are hurt and powerless, full of conflicting desires, disappointed, angry, ignorant, lonely, afraid. Far from delighting in God and in the life God has given us, we find that we are broken. Anxious, we struggle to prove almost against God that our lives are full and meaningful, we struggle to make ourselves the authors of our own worthiness, and in this struggle we end up breaking things. Attempting to prove to ourselves that our life is full, we consume things and use up the lives of other people, as if the purpose of everything else is to serve us. We are created for Holy Communion, but what we break is precisely communion, we break relationship, with others, with ourselves, with creation, with God
We live among the signs of our brokenness. Kim Jong-un is a terrifying sign of our brokenness. But who is free from the sin of pride, the desire to be recognized, or love of power? Attawapiskat is a sign of our brokenness. But who among us is free from every hint of prejudice? Who has never been guilty of a failure of compassion? Our overflowing prison system is a sign of our brokenness, as are our overflowing shopping malls. But who is free of the sins of frustration and anger, acquisitiveness, boredom? Our divorce rate is a sign of our brokenness. But who is has never been touched by the sin of lust or resentment, or by the bitter desire to exchange your life for another life? . . . Above all, Christ nailed on the cross is a sign of our brokenness – the sign that encompasses all of these other signs. For every sin, every one of the thousand thousand ways in which we are broken and which we break things, is, when you get right down to it, a way in which we break from God, a way in which we refuse the love of God, refuse the gift of himself in his son.
But, Hallelujah, the story does not end with this refusal. The story does not end on Good Friday, the cross or the tomb. The story does not end with all the broken things. It is this completely unexpected new beginning, this ‘Hallelujah,’ which we celebrate, in awe and amazement and joy, this beautiful morning. Christ was broken and God raised him from the dead, and so God manifested for us a reality more profound than the reality of our brokenness. He showed that love is the great mender, stronger than the powers which break us. Therefore our brokenness need not overwhelm us. Fear, frustration, boredom, anxiety, greed, despair: these things have gone away; but now they need not be what shapes our life. Easter means we are free people. We have crossed the Red Sea. Hallelujah!
Remember Mary in the garden, early on that first Easter morning. Jesus approaches her quietly and asks, “why are you weeping?” She weeps because she is broken. Broken in a thousand ways. All she has left in her to say is: ‘everything that was whole in me has been taken away.’ Jesus responds, calling her name, “Mary.” Hearing it, she recognizes him who alone has made her broken life whole: and her tears of grief turn to tears of joy. This morning for us is no different than it was for Mary so long ago. This morning Christ calls each of us by name. He offers us a new and mended life together; and calls us to respond with love to his love for us and thereby to remember who we are: a people intended for Holy Communion, consecrating the whole of creation in Thanksgiving to God.
Let me end by telling you an Easter story – the story of a person who, in the midst of horrific brokenness, chose to live by the light and power of Christ’s resurrection. Festo Kivenjere was a Ugandan Anglican priest and bishop during Idi Amin’s persecution of Christians. Festo’s friends were publically executed. On the night his archbishop was murdered, Festo himself got wind of a police ambush, and instead of driving home, drove through the night into the mountains. When the road gave out, Christian villagers helped him on foot over the border into Rwanda. From there, and wherever he went, Festo preached the gospel of love – love especially for Idi Amin, who he knew as a fellow broken child of God. When asked why, Festo often told this simple story:
One day, a little girl sat watching her mother working in the kitchen. She asked, ‘mummy, what does God do all day long?’ For a moment her mother was stumped. But then she said, ‘Darling, I’ll tell you what God does all day long. He spends his whole day mending broken things.
Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, dead and broken – and God raised him from the dead to mend all the broken things. God raised him from the dead so that now our song of thanksgiving, our Eucharist, might rise up again with one free and clear voice to God:
Hallelujah, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Hallelujah!