Easter Sunday 2021- Fr. J. Devin Rodgers
You might have noticed that there are butterflies all over the church. Each of you was given a butterfly when you came in. There is a butterfly on the cover of the bulletin and they are even hiding in our flower arrangements.
Butterflies are one of the most fascinating of God’s creatures. Did you know…
Butterfly wings are actually transparent? The color you see is made from thousands of tiny scales that reflect light. However, underneath those scales you can see right through their wings.
Some more facts, did you know butterflies cannot fly when they are cold? (Less than 86 degrees.)
They live on every continent except one. It never reaches about 86 degrees on Antarctica.
Did you know you can see the tiny developing caterpillar inside the eggs laid by the butterfly.
That egg hatches and spends most of its caterpillar life eating and growing.
Yet, It’s inevitable. One day, the hungry caterpillars stop chewing and chomping on leaves. Growing comes to an end.
Instinct takes over and the caterpillar begins to form a cocoon around herself.
From the outside it appears as if life for her is over. The chrysalis hangs from the branch or leaf- hard, dead and dull.
However, one spring morning when the time has come, and the transformation is complete, a small, crack begins to appear in the cocoon’s shell. With fighting and persistence, the butterfly breaks through and emerges new to the world.
This struggle is necessary for the butterfly to develop her wings. If it weren’t for this struggle the butterfly would never take flight.
However, once the struggle is over, she emerges from the chrysalis. She doesn’t just fly off at this point either. She sits and dries her beautiful wings in the spring breeze.
Eventually the time is right. She takes to flight. The butterfly rides the currents of the air and dancing from flower to flower.
The butterfly’s life is one of transformation, new beginnings, and new life…new and beautiful life. And so, it seems all too fitting that these creatures are used in art as signs of the Resurrection.
The parallels are obvious.
On the morning of the Resurrection, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome go to the tomb to finish the burial of Jesus. When they arrive at the tomb they expect to find a corpse inside a sealed, cold tomb. Instead much the tomb is empty. He is risen!
The women are filled with fear. They run away in terror and amazement. They tell no one what had happened.
This is probably not the ending you were expecting right? Well believe it or not that is how the gospel of Mark originally ended. Some Study Bibles have an additional few paragraphs that scholars believe was added during the mid-second century to allow Marks’ Gospel to conform with the other three gospels.
However, today we don’t hear that ending.
The women went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
This is where Mark originally stopped writing, but this story isn’t complete! Much in the same way the cocoon can’t contain the butterfly and much like death and the tomb could not contain God’s love.
Fear cannot hold back the Good News.
The women eventually did tell people!
The gospel of Christ who was crucified and raised spread from person to person, but it started with those women who at first struggled with their fear and confusion. These women the very first preachers. They shared the beautiful, transformation story, and it eventually spread from Jerusalem to every continent on the earth. (It made it further than butterflies)
Resurrection can not be contained. Eventually, whether with struggle, or not, life bursts forth. It emerges even from death and changes everything! Wholeness will come to broken lives. Separation will meld into unity. Fear will give way to joy.
This is the good news for us. This is the good news currently working within us and for us today.
Mark’s gospel is still unfinished. Transformation of Resurrection is for all people, the whole world, and for you.
There is a prayer from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer which captures this eloquently. It comes from our burial rite.
Jesus Christ our Lord; rose victorious from the dead, and he comforts us with the blessed hope of everlasting life. For to God’s faithful people, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens
We no longer have to fear death. Life does not end. It only transforms in the same way a butterfly does.
But this goes beyond just our mortal death. This transformation is seen all over the place.
Health after an illness. Recovery after addiction. Being together again after separation. Spring after winter.
Resurrection is present all around us.
Have you thought of this past year as a year of transformation?
Think about it for a moment.
Out of necessity in the pandemic we cocooned ourselves away in our homes, unsure of the change that was happening around us and within us.
School, Church, our workplaces, our family gatherings, our traditions, customs, ways of entertaining ourselves and even the ways we dress changed in a matter of a few weeks.
Last Easter I was still struggling to figure out how to even have Easter worship.
We mourned the death of loved ones, including friends and members from this very parish.
It was a year of fear, uncertainty and loss.
The fear and confusion we felt is not all that different from the women’s the first Easter Sunday. We fear what we cannot control and what we do not understand.
Yet, new life persists.
Today, we are coming out of the cocoons and we see the transformation that has already come. We have the ability to see and join God in this newness.
It’s as if today we are emerging after a struggle, drying our wings and following the example of getting ready to bring about more and more beautiful transformation.
Today we are worshiping with one another in person again and we are joined by friends and loved ones online literally across the country. We have transformed and expanded our understanding of what it means to be community.
More and more people are coming from the cocoons of isolation and being vaccinated.
Our children are able to learn with their friends at school. This is cause for rejoicing!
Empowered by the God who is life and only life, just imagine the way we can bring beautiful transformation through our life.
The God who’s spirit blew across the waters before creation is the same Spirit who creates the breeze for the butterfly to fly and is the same God who will use us to be winds of change for a world ripe for transformation.
Like the butterfly, we too will be signs of Resurrection for a world struggling to emerge from its own cocoon.
Are you ready?
This Easter we will spend the next seven weeks in church learning and praying for Resurrection transformation of our world, our faith, our church and so much more.
Have faith the Risen Christ is making all things new. There is no need to fear.
Life never truly ends. It merely changes.
Emerge from the cocoon of struggle. Dry your wings and rejoice!
Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen Indeed!
You are about to take flight.
You and your life are a beautiful sign of new and unending life in him!