Growing up, I used to watch Monty Python, a British comedy group that was very popular. Their shows were aired on PBS and many of the sketches are classic comedy. In 1971, the comedy troupe created a movie called: And Now For Something Completely Different. I have used this phrase to introduce a couple of Sermon series, inviting congregants to reflect upon the Holy Scriptures in new ways.
The ancient covenant our Lord made with Abraham and every succeeding generation was truly something different. Abraham’s faith was unwavering. God’s promise to him, first described in Genesis 12 would not be achieved in Abraham’s lifetime. The Book of Genesis offers us the story of those first generations of Abraham’s descendants. At the time, God’s covenant with Abraham was something very different. Abraham and his family were set apart to begin a new journey with our Creator.
What unfolds in the rest of the Old Testament are the ways in which God declared God’s dedication to the covenant He made with Abraham. Women and men were called by the Lord to be prophets, teachers, and exemplars of what it means to believe in the one who created all of us.
The events which led to the liberation of Abraham’s descendants from Egypt are wondrously amazing. Ten plagues were sent to the leaders of Egypt, declaring to the ancient Hebrews and the Egyptians that our God is God. Each year, our Hebrew sisters and brothers retell this momentous declaration of God’s salvific acts in their lives.
We know that all of these things our Lord did for our salvation weren’t enough. The people still turned away, going after other gods, forgetting the law which was written on stone but had yet to be written upon our hearts. And then our Lord did something completely different, once again. God came to us in human form, journeying with us, teaching us to live by the spirit of the law, and declaring for us how deep and profound our Lord’s love is for all of us.
Jesus’ mission and ministry offered us a new covenant, a new way of living, and a new way of being in relationship with our Creator. We all know how the story continues. God was about to do something truly amazing and transforming. On Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and other women went to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. We know what happened. They were told: “He isn’t here. He has risen!” The women were asked: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
God was making a new covenant for us, an everlasting covenant. Each year, as we remember the Easter story, we do so knowing that Jesus will rise on Sunday. Death could not hold Him. We celebrate that once again our Lord did something unexpected, something wonderful, something completely different so that each of us might have life everlasting.
That is one of the many things I love about retelling the story of the empty tomb. God declared that nothing would keep us apart. Paul says it best in Romans Chapter 8:37-39, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
May we rejoice in all that our Lord does for our redemption and salvation. For He is Risen!, He Is Risen, Indeed. And Amen.