Easter Vigil 2007
Once upon a time, there was a garden, a beautiful garden. God was in the garden. A man and a woman were in the garden with God. They spent most of their days working the earth, tending the garden. There were days the ants would get the peanuts they had planted and they had a chore driving ants away from those plants. God loved peanuts. At sunset, they would gather for supper. God loved to cook. They had stories to tell, not just about the ants and the rain and the vines growing all over the place.
In the middle of the garden was a tree. In the tree lived a talking snake. You know the story. When the man and woman finally left, a flaming sword was planted outside the gates to guard the entrance to the garden.
Outside Eden, Adam and Eve begot Abel and Cain and Seth, and the rest of the human race. Many million years later, X begot Y begot A begot B and so on and so forth. You know the story. Until Christmas of course, when Mary begot Jesus.
Jesus was not a gardener. But he worked with wood, the stuff of trees, which grew in the gardens of the world. Even as a child there was life, God’s life bursting in Jesus. When he got to his 30’s, he left home and gathered some friends around him. He did wondrous things like walking on waves and multiplying bread. At sunset, he and his friends would gather for supper. I don’t know who cooked for them. They had stories to tell, and not just about fallen demons and risen lepers and all sorts of zombies they had to deal with.
In the middle of their lives was a place called Jerusalem. At that time, it was not a garden of a place. No trees. But there were a lot of talking snakes. The snakes told Jesus to shut up and shut the life that was bursting in him. But Jesus would not. The snakes told him to obey, to sit, and sit still especially on the Sabbath. And Jesus would not. Jesus was just full of God’s life and love. He spoke about the birds in the air, the seeds of grace that were being thrown all over world, and He continued to give life, to work at life, even on the Sabbath.
Outside the gates of Jerusalem was a forbidden and forbidding place called Calvary. No trees were planted there. Only wooden crosses.
You know the story. When Jesus was finally brought down from the cross, they laid him in a cave of a tomb. And a huge heavy stone was placed at the mouth to guard entrance to the cave.
When Easter Sunday came, Jesus was nowhere and everywhere to be found. For those who believed and even for some like Thomas who doubted, Jesus was just about everywhere, crossing space-time and tunneling through multiverses only Einstein and Hawking might have guessed.
As light broke the horizon, on that first day of the week of the new creation, Jesus and his friends were having breakfast. When his friends saw the wounds in his hands as he made the fire, they believed. The marks of sorrow and cakes of blood, and yes even the dying, all these were terrible and real. But the life, the life he now had in him, that was as real too as the fish and bread they were having for breakfast. At sunrise, they had stories to tell, and not just about the servant girl who scared the truth out of Peter or the way some of them followed at a distance or how on earth Mary Magdalene could mistake Jesus for the gardener.
It was such an animated telling that the disciples did not notice the grief and regret of their yesterday dissolving with the morning mist. Jesus smiled and told them to eat eat eat. But not too much. The last time they ate much, which was at the passover, none of them could keep awake when they all finally got into the garden.
In the garden, Jesus told them, he was hoping God would be in the garden. But the sorrow and fear were so thick he could not even see the trees in the garden. There was nothing but darkness, not even a talking snake.
The darkness (of course we know the story), the darkness that covered the garden was just for a Friday, the sixth day of the week. On the seventh day, a sabbath, God did not rest. He was busy giving life back to our lives, the way Jesus himself kept giving life back to our lives, even on the sabbath.
Did they live happily ever after? Do we live happily ever after? You know the story? No, you don’t know the story. The story of our lives, whether you are seventeen or seventy five, is just beginning. The story of our lives, on this easter side of Eden, is just about to begin.