The Resurrection Laundry Miracle
When I was seven years old, an amazing thing happened. Every morning when I woke up, there was a brand new pair of purple striped socks, In their original paper packaging, in my drawer. The first couple of mornings, I didn’t think much of it. But as the days went on, into the 5th and 6th days, I started to think something special was going on. I said to myself, if these socks appear one more day, it’s a miracle!
Well, of course I looked the next day in my drawer—I found laundered socks, but no new ones. Then I discovered the plastic bag all the socks had come in, in my trash can.
It was a six-pack of socks, bought by my mother! So much for my miracle.
I think of this story when I read about Peter in our Gospel lesson for this morning.
He and the other disciples had gathered after the crucifixion, heart-broken and scared.
It had now been a day and a half since Jesus died, and they didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly, some of women who had followed Jesus burst in. They all talked at once, saying that when they had gone to the tomb that morning That it was empty.
Then they said there were two men, shining like angels who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead! Some of the disciples scoffed at the women-- women will believe anything! But Peter got up and ran to the tomb—he was hoping for a miracle.
Often on Easter Sunday we hear the story from the Gospel of John, About how Mary Magdalene went to the tomb in the early morning and sees Jesus. At first she thinks he’s the gardener, but when she hears his voice, she recognizes him. But in Luke’s telling, there is no resurrection appearance in the garden. Just the empty tomb
There is no proof of a miracle, just the words of the angels and the women. Jesus does appear in person in the gospel of Luke—later in the chapter. But I think it is handy that on Easter Sunday we don’t get that part of the story Because our experience is like that of the story we read today. We don’t really get proof of the resurrection.
There is no scientific evidence, no independent, unbiased sources saying that Jesus rose from the dead. What we have are second hand stories of Jesus’ resurrection And testimonies of Jesus’ impact in the world. We aren’t so much like Mary Magdalene who gets to hear and touch the risen Jesus As we are like Peter who hears a story and sees an empty tomb. Like Peter, we wonder if what we have been told about Jesus is but an idle tale Or if there is really something in it after all.
The deal is that even after we’ve taken the myth out of religion, After science and reason have had their say, we haven’t quite stopped hoping for a miracle. We haven’t stopped hoping for a miracle in the cancer ward We haven’t stopped praying that our loved one will come home safe from active duty Or that we’ll conceive a baby Or that the pain of grief will end. We haven’t stopped hoping for something bigger and stronger than ourselves To step in and make it all right, for us and for the world. We haven’t stopped hoping for Jesus. And so on this Sunday morning, we run to the tomb to see for ourselves:
Is Jesus really risen?
Is hope alive?
Could it be true?
When Peter ran to the tomb, he saw something unexpected: he saw laundry. Yes, laundry-- the linen shroud piled in a corner. There was no body. To him this meant that Jesus’ body had not been stolen—
What thief would take the time to unwrap the body?
This was no failed sock drawer miracle.
This was a sign that Jesus was alive!
When we gather at this morning at the empty tomb, we see a sign, too. But it’s not the laundry-- luckily the altar guild takes care of the linens! No, when we gather at the place of resurrection, we see each other. We see a congregation of wannabe believers.
We see people who by their baptisms have been made into the Body of Christ. Jesus is not in a tomb— He is here! Alive! How is Jesus alive? Well, let me tell you.
Jesus is alive in the spiritual gifts of this congregation.
He is alive in the care people show one another, in washing the windows at the parsonage In how people check in on someone who we haven’t seen for awhile
He’s alive in the prayer chain, the prayer shawl knitters, and the lay prayer leaders
Who support members and friends of the congregation who are in need.
Their care and prayer become Jesus’ healing hands.
Jesus is alive in the sense of community people experience at St. Matthew.
People here have an authentic desire to strengthen bonds between members
You all are the only congregation I have served that consistently wears nametags!
Jesus is alive when you introduce yourself to someone who is a visitor, or someone who is just new to you who has been a member here for years.
Jesus is alive in the creativity of our members showcased at the Open Mic Night and Gallery Walk In the bible studies and Sunday school classrooms, in the joyful singing of children and the leadership of our youth.
Jesus is alive as we serve the community in our blood drives and meals at Grace Lutheran in Hartford And as we discuss ways to reach out to new people with Jesus’ hope.
Jesus is alive in our working together. We know that when we put our minds to something we can do it.
In January this year,our operating budget was $57,000 in the red. We could have cut back our ministry and our impact, but instead we communicated the need And our congregation stepped up to close the gap, raising the money and exceeding our goal.
Now we are discussing exactly how we are going to harness the gifts of this talented congregation and staff to make a greater impact for good in our community and towns and the broader world.
So I am making a shameless plug and inviting you back next week in between services
for the first of three community conversations to formulate our vision plan. When we work together, God works through us. Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years ago
Yet that is not the only miracle. The other miracle is that God took a bunch of wannabe believers And made Jesus live in us. Jesus alive in us means we are literally Christ’s body for others. To hope with the despairing To bring light to the darkness And to bring Jesus’ unbreakable life to the places of death.
Brothers and sisters, we have come to the tomb looking for a miracle. God’s work in us through Jesus is that miracle.
Let our lives be the sign of Christ’s resurrection.
Let our bodies be Christ’s hands and feet doing Jesus’ work in the world.
Let our lives proclaim the Good News:
Christ is Risen!
He is risen, indeed!