The Good News Begins with Absence

The Good News Begins with Absence
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Christ is risen. Alleluia!

This is good news indeed, for you and me and for all of creation. This world we live in needs some good news and this morning’s news is the best that there is to share.

I have a dear friend and, as dear friends do, we share much with each other. Joys, sorrows, frustrations, concerns, and all the rest. There is a pattern in our conversations that, over the years, has become something of a script: When one of us has had a particularly trying experience and expresses some version of “Why do things have to be this way?” the other’s response is “Because sin is real.” It is a helpful reminder that we humans are deeply susceptible to sin and the troubles it brings. But also a reminder that sin and the kind of death it brings, ultimately, have been defeated. Even on the most dire and frustrating of days, there is good news.

To be sure, sin is still with us. But what we see in the world today is the outrage of a vanquished villain. The thrashing tail of a slain dragon. Powerful and dangerous, but on its way out. We see it in war and unrest, displacements, climate disasters, racism, misogyny, homophobia, the exploitation of human beings for profit… The list goes on and on. But in a world where our most persistent encounters with sin are a rapacious consuming, the good news of the Resurrection is shown, not with a presence, but an absence. The tomb is empty.

Where there ought to be a lifeless body, there is nothing. Death, which hoped to consume all life one day, has bitten off more than it could chew in the source of all life and has found itself defeated by its own greed and unending, selfish desires. Betrayed by its own lusts, it has been laid low and will trouble us only a little longer.

Stories of a risen Christ from 2,000 years ago are good and this cosmic image of a defeated sin and impotent death are lovely, but, preacher, what has it to do with life in Hamilton today?

The good news for us today is that the evidence of the Resurrection’s work is right here, in this room with us. In every one of us. When the time came for God to work out the salvation of humanity from our slavery to sin, God might have done it any way God chose. But what God chose was to become one of us. God became like us so that we, in turn, might become like God. We, through our sharing in Christ’s life and resurrection can participate in the life of God.

In a world where sin and death still try to trick us—to consume us—by telling us constantly that we are not enough, the Resurrection of Christ offers another story. We are told every day that we should be better looking, smarter, more athletic, more popular, more productive, more connected, more, more, more. And always by someone who has something to sell us that will address the deficiency they have just drawn our attention to.

God, on the other hand, says to us that we are enough. In fact, we are good and very good at the moment of our making. So good is humanity, that when God moves to reconcile creation it is done through Jesus Christ, true God and true human, in one person. Your body, your intellect, your heart, your spirit, your being are more than enough. God desires nothing more than to know you, to love you, to fill your life with blessing, and draw you to perfect communion with God for eternity. God’s affirmation of your goodness is so great that God would die and destroy death itself so that you might spend eternity in celebration and feasting.

Today is the day the Lord has made and we shall rejoice and be glad in it. This table holds the victory feast of the Lamb and you are called to attend, Christians. In that feast, see what you are and become what you eat: The glory of God in the resurrected Body of Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen, amen, amen.

Andrew Rampton

Andrew Rampton

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