Easter Sunday: The Unimaginable

This is the night.  These are the words we heard sung beautifully at the beginning of the tonight’s vigil.

What is the story of tonight?

It’s the story of the unimaginable. And in some ways, tonight, is the story of grief. Those of you who have experienced extreme grief know that,  “There are moments that the words don’t reach.  There is a suffering to terrible to name.  We push away what we can ever understand. We push away the unimaginable.”[1]

These words come from the musical Hamilton.  I saw it in January. It’s one of the few times that I have gone to see something that was so hyped, and it lived up to the expectations.  Why did I love Hamilton?  Because it was the story of real life.  It was the story of a man who was zealous, ambitious, fallen, broken, healed, transformed, and loved.  It was a human story.  The song that touched me the most is called, It’s Quiet Uptown. This song is about Hamilton and his wife Eliza grieving at the death of their son, while at the same time, attempting to repair their broken marriage. And so, Eliza begins the song acknowledging their grief:  There are moments that the words don’t reach. There is a suffering to terrible to name. We push away what we can never understand.  We push away the unimaginable!

If we think about it, this is the story of tonight—of the Easter Vigil. Tonight, the unimaginable has happened. Who would have ever thought that God could become one of us? Who could have ever thought that our God – the Christ – would be brutally tortured by us and rejected by us!? Even more hard to believe, who could imagine that we would put God to death?  And yet it is what happened; the Unimaginable. 

But that’s only half the story.  The apostles, they too are grappling with the unimaginable. They are experiencing a horrible grief—the death of Jesus; the one whom they thought[2] would be the savior of the world.  Its important for us to acknowledge this.  This moment, this night, albeit brief, the earliest of disciples began to doubt and wonder, have we lost?  And worse, they are overcome with grief and shame for abandoning Jesus at his greatest hour of need.  They are hiding and trying to push away the unimaginable—that Jesus Christ is truly dead and their betrayal had something to do with that.

And today, are we not too experiencing the unimaginable?  The world has been turned upside down.  Many have lost their jobs, who two months ago, probably thought that was impossible.  And we know that the coronavirus does not discriminate, it has impacted every aspect of life.  So much so that even the Church, even we have canceled weekend masses.  Unfortunately, this means that on this night—on this holy night, where we anticipate Christ’s resurrection, we are not able to celebrate together at the Church.  There is no other word, it is Unimaginable.

But look: something beautiful is happening in the midst of the unimaginable… Families are praying together in edifying ways.  The other day I saw on facebook pictures of parents who were celebrating Holy Thursday at home with their children by washing their feet. There have been countless examples of good deeds done to support each other through this crisis.  One of these cool moments happened when John Krasinski, an actor from the hit show “The Office” decided to focus on good news during this time of crisis.  So, he heard of a girl who had tickets to see Hamilton, but because of the coronavirus was unable to go, and she was crushed.  So what did he do?  He invited her on to his youtube show “Some Good News.” He promised her tickets to see Hamilton when life is back to normal.  But the surprise didn’t end there, in this video call, the Hamilton cast all appeared and sang the opening song for her.  It was awesome and it made me emotional.  The goodness of humanity shining through during this unimaginable time.  

And look: this isn’t just happening now; it happened then.  Christ’s goodness shines through during the unimaginable because Christ did the unimaginable.  He had risen.  He is not in the tomb but he is alive.  This is what we celebrate tonight, when the angel says to Mary, He is not here, he is not in the tomb, he has risen indeed! Jesus has accomplished the unimaginable, he has risen from the dead.

The song that I mentioned at the beginning of this homily begins with the pain and grief of the unimaginable, but it ends with a new start, a new beginning, and forgiveness. Hamilton is asking his wife for a second chance.  He wants to grieve with her after their son’s death.  And we hear these words from Eliza:

There are moments that the words don’t reach.  There’s a grace too powerful to name. We push away what we can never understand. We push away the unimaginable. 

And then it happens.  In that moment of grace. In that moment of profound grace. Eliza reaches out and grabs Hamilton’s hand, and offers forgiveness.  The chorus sings: Forgiveness, can you imagine!

Look at that… the one imaginable thing, is forgiveness. 

Friends, this is the story of tonight.  The Unimaginable has happened, Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, so that, the imaginable could happen.  Our forgiveness.  The story of tonight is that Jesus offers us forgiveness, freedom from sin, and a new start. He offers us that same grace that is too powerful to name.

So, in another song from Hamilton we are given our call to action. 

Raise a glass to freedom something they could never take away

Christ has won for us freedom and that can never be taken from us! This is the song freedom, the song of victory!

Raise a glass to the [few] of us, tomorrow there’ll be more of us

As we proclaim that powerful grace to others, there will be more experience the powerful grace of Christ in their own lives.

Telling the story of tonight

Raise the glass to Freedom; Go tell the story of tonight

Tonight, there may only be a few of us in this church, but as we go on in our lives and we tell God’s story, there will be more of us—Because God has accomplished the unimaginable; our freedom from sin and death!

In Christ’s Love and Friendship, Happy Easter!

Fr. Stephen

[1] Hamilton, It’s Quiet Uptown.

[2] Luke 24:19

One Reply to “Easter Sunday: The Unimaginable”

  1. You are so amazing!!! We miss you. Stay healthy and know that you are in our prayers every day. We thank God that He brought you into our lives.
    God Bless You!!!

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