Well, I made it. We made it! It is now Easter again. Such a remarkable day, yet an exhausting one for a pastor. It began around 5am this morning, as Easter’s usually do for me. The Lord blessed me with a full bladder right around the time I had to get out of bed which I wish would happen every day–He is risen indeed!
And after a day of much glorious celebrating and feasting and festivities here I sit pondering Jesus’ first words post-tomb. Maybe for the first time in my life, I am reading the Resurrection story in Matthew 28 and realizing how remarkable it is that angels tell the good news but Jesus has something different in mind. “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matt. 28:10)
Wait, what? I mean, I like the “don’t be afraid” part. That’ll always preach. But the next part isn’t very inspiring. It isn’t very eye catching. It isn’t very thrilling. “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee?” Jesus, shouldn’t we at least first talk about how you are still alive? Shouldn’t you tell us what it all means? Shouldn’t we do some theology? Shouldn’t we at least sing some songs about forgiveness, grace, mercy and the like? Shouldn’t you tell us what God the Father is doing/thinking/wanting? In fact, shouldn’t we talk about anything other than Galilee?
We sang around 6 songs about Jesus’ Resurrection this morning. By the end of the Easter liturgical season we will have exhausted many more. All of them are more melodic and poetic than, “Tell my brothers to go to Galilee!” Kindergartners write better poetry than that!
But for those of you who do not know, Galilee held a pretty unique spot in the Roman Empire. Don’t let my word choice of “unique” trick you. Unique here does not mean special and it certainly does not mean glorious. Instead it means weird. Galilee was a weird place for so many reasons. They were like the Puerto Rico of Rome. They were totally a part of the country but everybody kind of forgot they existed. (No offense to the Puerto Ricans. In fact you have my humble apologies!)
Beyond that, Galilee had its own government, kind of. In fact, their kings were kind of a drag. The citizens were too. They were farmers and fishermen and shepherds. They didn’t have the temple, or really many great buildings at all. They were Jewish but not always faithful ones. They were also Romans but not always loyal ones. They were simple, slightly uneducated and, as I all ready said, mostly forgotten.
Yet Galilee is where Jesus lived. Galilee is where he ministered. Galilee is where he made his namesake and Galilee is where he began the revolution of love against sin and evil. And Galilee was where he apparently couldn’t wait to get to after defeating death and all that.
That’s right, Galilee.
That might be the most awkward part of any Easter liturgy:
He is risen!
He is risen INDEED!
He is going to Galilee!
He is going to. . .wait. . .Galilee? Um, indeed. . .Galilee indeed?
Yet where else would he go? In fact, what better place to go? He is not just risen. He is risen and going back to Galilee. He is risen and going back to the forgotten, poor, rural communities. He is risen and journeying back to those who are marginalized, weak and foolish. He is risen and you will find him where you were always able to find him, in Galilee.
So as I sit here after a full and wonderful but exhausting day and wonder where this Easter might take me or might take you, I find myself hoping that the resurrection of the Lord will find us in the Galilee’s!
Happy Easter! He is risen (and in Galilee) indeed!