Easter is more than a promise of life beyond the grave, of happiness in heaven with our loved ones. Easter is a promise that life is good now, that God's power is active in this moment, in all places, in all lives. . . Easter tells us that whatever may happen to us in this world there is an answer, and the answer is “but God.” –– Delmer Chilton
GOSPEL READING: Matthew 28:1-10
“They put him to death on a tree, but God raised him”. . . Those words, but God, are the church's only good answer to the troubles and trials the world offers. Trying to reason our way through grief and loss, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to convince a world gone crazy . . . these things are, at the end of the day, pointless. There is no reason that can assuage our grief. . . no sense to be made of the raging evil we see around us. . . no way to divert the addicted and bloated from seeking their fix, be it oil or drugs.
The only answer we have to offer to these things. . . is those two words, “but God!” Beginning with Adam and Eve and the Apple, the Devil tempts, people Sin, Death ensues, and God intervenes with another chance. It is the golden thread running through the Bible; this story of God's redeeming and forgiving love, this story of God's willingness to act in response to the world's evil. . . .
At Easter we celebrate the ultimate “but God” moment, the raising of Jesus from the tomb. It is both the proof and the promise of our faith.–– Delmer Chilton
FIRST READING: Acts 10:34-43
No matter what else changes on Easter, this reading, recoding Peter's great sermon. . . remains consistently the same. It is as if, according to the church, Peter's baptismal point (“I truly understand that God shows no partiality”) is the central point of Jesus' rising from the grave. . . .
On this reading the commentators are unanimous: Acts 10:34–43, beginning with “the baptism that John announced” (v 37b), concluding with the proclamation that Jesus is judge of the living and the dead and the assertion that “All the prophets testify about him” (v 43) contains in summary all kerygmatic essentials. . . . All of this is given as evidence that, as Peter declares, God is proclaiming peace through Jesus who is “Lord of all,” uniting gentiles with “the circumcised.” –– Amandus J. Derr
EPISTLE READING: Colossians 3:1-4
The reading from Acts 10 offers personal testimony to support the evidence: we have seen the risen Christ and it changed our lives. The assigned epistle readings for this day have the feel of a lawyer appealing to the jury with a request: consider the consequences of this evidence if it is true: in Colossians we are instructed that through the resurrection we are renewed in Christ. . . –– Todd E. Johnson
Delmer L. Chilton is assistant to the bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA in Atlanta.
Amandus J. Derr is senior pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church (ELCA) in New York City.
Todd E. Johnson is associate professor of worship, theology, and the arts at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
Homily Service 41, no. 2 (2007): 102-112.