Apr 9th, Blessed are the Hopeful, Easter Sunday, with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski
I read an essay this past week I can’t stop thinking about. It’s written by a mother about a conversation she had with her seven year old daughter, following the mass shooting at a Nashville elementary school that killed six people, including three children.
Is this just going to keep happening? The seven year old asked her mother, her voice caught in her throat, her eyes tired from crying. She had a really hard day at school are hard things like this gonna keep happening. Through my whole life, even when I’m grown up.
The mother’s heart was breaking for her daughter. And she was asking herself the same question. Is this just going to keep happening?
This mother wrote part of me just wanted to sit and cry with my daughter in the pain. And be honest. Yes, it’s just going to keep happening. Even when you’re a grown up like me,
hard things impossible things. Just keep happening.
She wrote and I did say that.
But I kept going.
This was a yes. And moment. I said to my daughter, yes, it’s going to keep happening.
Life is hard. Painfully hard. Sometimes. It’s okay to cry. We need to hold on to each other.
And I believe when life is hard,
that’s only part of the story.
There is another story, a story of a love stronger than even the hardest things.
is a yes. And moment.
Yes, we continue to live in a in a Good Friday world where hard things just keep happening.
And there is another story. The hope we celebrated Easter
is the promise of a love stronger than even the hardest things.
You know, I confess that when I heard the news about another school shooting, I became numb I was that seven year old thinking,
is this just going to keep happening. And that’s what hopelessness feels like, trapped in a dark tomb reliving the same, the same old story feeling the stone will never be rolled away, and nothing will ever change.
And then I saw,
I saw the report of hundreds, hundreds of young people, children and teenagers gathering at the steps of the Capitol Building in Nashville, shouting enough demanding change. I mean, they didn’t hide their tears or their pain or their anger.
They were refusing to accept that this is the way it has to be. Refusing to accept that the story of death is the story of death that we have to keep living.
You know, there was a spirit,
a spirit rising in those young people. They’ve been pushing, pushing back the darkness insisting
a new story can be told, must be told for their lives. For our country, for the world.
Now that’s the Easter spirit. The Easter spirit that desires to rise in the hearts of each and every one of us the promise of Easter.
Is that the hardest things suffering, darkness, death do not and will not ever have the last word
God does. And the word God spoke that first Easter morning and continues to speak was of a love stronger than the hardest things.
rhetor Anne Lamott said Easter isn’t about proving anything as as if you can possibly explain the unexplainable.
She said Easter is about choosing the belief and bet your life on this this one thing
that love is bigger and stronger than any of the grim, bleak crap life can throw at us.
And if love isn’t winning,
it just means the story isn’t over.
That’s the hope of Easter.
The hope of Easter work
invited to trust and to bet our lives on.
I really think that’s what the mother was trying to tell her seven year old.
I think that’s the hope those students on the Capitol steps in Nashville demanding change embodied.
The Gospel of John begins the Easter story.
On the first day of the week, while it was still dark.
Mary Magdalene, a dear friend, a disciple of Jesus makes her way to the tomb to anoint his body with spices.
Notice Mary doesn’t enter into Easter with joy and celebration, I mean, certain everything’s going to work out.
She arrives to the tomb
was still swollen red eyes from crying more tears than then she has ever said in her life.
She goes to the tomb
while it is still dark.
That’s so important.
Because I know so many of you.
So many of you come to this Easter day.
While it is still dark,
in the midst of your own pain, uncertainty, and unknowing. So many of you come to this Easter day like that seven year old asking,
Is this how it will always be?
The Easter story begins with the words we know only too well.
While it was still dark.
What Mary didn’t know.
And maybe what we don’t realize
is that God works the night shift.
While it is still dark,
God is busy writing a new story.
Making sure the worst thing will never be the last thing. In the words of Dr. Seuss. Just when we think we’re stuck in a world where z is as far as the alphabet goes.
God is picking up the chalk
to draw one letter more a letter we’ve never dreamed up before.
Barbara brown Taylor reminds us new life.
In a new life always begins in the dark.
Whether it be a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb,
or Jesus in the to
new life begins. While it is still dark.
There was a mother whose six year old son Bobby had leukemia and he was in the hospital.
The reality of the illness. And the treatment had taken a toll on on Bobby’s little body. He lost the smile that used to come so naturally to him and it’s his eyes no longer sparkled.
They understood those words that begin the Easter story. While it is still dark.
Bobby’s mother knew that his dream, like all six year olds was was to become a fireman.
So she called the fire chief of the Phoenix Arizona fire department and asked if he could help.
Now in this world of ours trapped in the tomb of cynicism and, and despair, it would have been easy for the fire chief to say, you know, I’m just I’m just too busy.
Instead, the fire chief spoke those words
that always have the potential to begin news stories. Yes,
yes, I’d be happy to help.
He told Bobby’s mother to have him ready early Sunday morning and they would pick them up in front of the hospital bright and early Sunday morning. Bobby, he was waiting. He was ready. Three, three big red fire trucks arrived lights flashing, pulling up in front of the hospital.
The fire chief steps out steps out of one of the trucks and places on Bobby’s head a fire hat that said Phoenix fire department station 451 Captain Bobby
Bobby’s face lit up with this huge grin that his mom hadn’t seen for a long time.
That day there were six fires across Phoenix.
Bobby was the one who who pressed the button to make the sirens go he was the one who released the valves and in the water through the hoses. They went to the fire station and the fire chief held on to Bobby tight as as they slid down the pole together.
And it’d be six years old for a moment. I
mean Bobby’s dreams came true this this was an on beyond zebra day beyond
Anything he ever imagined
time stood still.
That’s what eternity means time stood still.
Three months later,
Bobby neared his transition from this life to more or less.
A nurse had the wisdom to call the fire chief, you know, thinking he would want to know
that Bobby’s time was near.
The fire chief told the nurse to tell everyone not to panic.
Because soon they were going to hear sirens
because they were coming
to honor one of their own.
Within the hour, several fire trucks pulled up outside the hospital lights flashy.
The fire chief with a couple of firefighters
went up to Bobby’s room where he was. He was being held by his mother.
The fire chief saw Bobby’s Bobby’s fire hat on the table near the bed.
And he placed it on the pillow
near Bobby’s head.
With a weak voice, Bobby looked up and asked,
am I a fireman yet?
And the fire chief smiled and said, Bobby,
you’re one of us.
Two days later, Bobby transitioned
from this life, to more life received into the heart of God whose love will never let him go.
Have you ever heard of them make a wish foundation
the Make a Wish Foundation has has impacted the lives of 1000s and 1000s of children and their families in their hardest days.
This is how it got started.
Make a Wish got started with Bobby.
And a fire chief.
Who found it in his heart to say yes.
Proving to a little boy.
There is a love
more powerful, stronger
than the hardest things.
And the Easter story.
Mary only knows that is Jesus.
When he calls her by name
in that moment
the worst thing
will never be the last thing in that moment. She knows
And the risen Christ says to marry.
tell the others
will hard things keep happening.
Yes, we need to hold on to each other.
and there is a love stronger, more powerful
than the hardest of things.
And that love is calling you calling you by name.
Inviting you inviting you to say yes.
And to bet your life on the promise.
That love wins. Remembering if love isn’t winning.
It just means
the story isn’t over.
tell the others
Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed.