Several years ago, I took for the title of my Easter sermon “Still We Rise,” inspired, of course, by the incomparable Maya Angelou. We actually had her read her poem “Still I Rise” as our modern lesson. She couldn’t be with us, so she recited it on video.
Her poem reminds me of the rising of so many people that had been given up for dead. My grandfather had terminal cancer. The only thing was they never told him. He just thought they had removed part of his lung and he would recover … so he did. I could go down a long list of friends who contracted AIDS long before there was any treatment. Many of them became ill and were not expected to live … but they did. I have friends whose businesses or careers seemed to have been dead, but, low and behold, they came back.
I suspect all of us could cite examples from our own lives when we thought a relationship was dead, or when we thought our hopes and dreams had come and gone. Still we rise.
That is the real message of Easter. It wasn’t only the resurrection of Jesus, the first-century rabbi and prophet; it is the promise of our own resurrections. If resurrection is only a future promise to be cashed in after we die, then it has little impact on our daily living. If we are convinced, however, that life is stronger than death, just as light disperses darkness, then it is that conviction that should guide our days.
Yes, we all have faced death in one form or another, and we will all face it again. It is a terrible thing. It is the worst enemy human life has. We who are followers of the Way of Jesus, though, refuse to believe that, regardless of how terrible death is, it is not the final word. As people of resurrection, we live our entire lives facing toward morning and the sunrise. Night may come, but, like the sun, still we rise. As the Psalmist put it, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Rev. Michael Piazza