Acts 10: 34-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11; John 20: 1-18

I was reading quite a fascinating article in National Geographic the other day and let me share a bit of it with you. Yes, I did say National Geographic and this is a church and this is a sermon on Easter. This was the title of the article written by Joel Achenbach: Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from climate change to vaccinations—faces furious opposition. Some even have doubts about the moon landing.” That was how it began. It had me hooked. When a voice from the science community worries that people are doubting too much the science of our times it causes me to sit up a little more.

The article went on to say: “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change—faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative. And there’s so much talk about the trend these days—in books, articles, and academic conferences—that science doubt itself has become a pop-culture meme…

“In a sense all this is not surprising. Our lives are permeated by science and technology as never before. For many of us this new world is wondrous, comfortable, and rich in rewards—but also more complicated and sometimes unnerving. We now face risks we can’t easily analyze.

“In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle that’s what science is for. “Science is not a body of facts,” says geophysicist Marcia McNutt, who once headed the U.S. Geological Survey and is now editor of Science, the prestigious journal. “Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.” But that method doesn’t come naturally to most of us. And so we run into trouble, again and again.”

I found this whole article incredibly fascinating because here in the church we think that people in this modern day have trouble with the idea of faith and belief in God and instead focus much more on a scientific way of thinking. If it cannot be proven in a laboratory setting then it should not be trusted or believed. Research and cold hard facts are all that are important. This is what I might have thought for many folks that do not acknowledge a presence of God in the world. But clearly I am off base. Along with this as well is that often the type of faith that many might shy away from is one that is rigid and unswerving with no room for science, anthropology, sociology, psychology or other ideas. A precise response to certain parts of our Scriptures is the only path for some faithful followers. But the Christian Faith has a huge spectrum of ways to view the world and movements of God within it and to be honest always has. The idea of faith, at least my understanding of it, is that it accepts the understandings of how the world works but also incorporates into that a faith and a trust in God’s presence with us on our walk and our journey through this life. We acknowledge that we can study much in this world but we cannot come up with all the answers and in fact at some point we need to stand back and appreciate the wonder and beauty of this world and our lives, stand back and acknowledge God in our midst and the Holy Spirit in our hearts and souls. At some point we recognize that there is another aspect to life that is not grown in a lab but is felt and experienced in our soul.

Today is Easter Day and it is a day that we who have joined with billions of Christians around the world affirm the holy words of our faith. We hold up once more our trust and hope that Christ is risen from the dead and the meaning of that influences how we live and how we act. For we are a resurrection people. Today we join with Mary Magdalene as she went out into the darkness of the morning to go to the tomb of long ago. She ventured out of her home long ago perhaps for tradition’s sake or religious duty or a broken heart to go to the place where they had placed the body of Jesus. And we join with her in expecting only the expected. We follow her anticipating nothing really except death and darkness, hatred and violence. We walk with her confident that all that is to be found is all that is ever found when a body is placed in a tomb: only silence and a feeling of life and love being snuffed out. Our understanding of the world and science says it must be so.

But what she discovered and to be honest even to this day I cannot understand why she is not considered one of the greatest Christian saints, what Mary discovered was something that pointed out that life is not predictable but is crackling with an entire God-filled dimension. The stone had been removed and the body was not there. There must be a rational explanation she thought. There must be a simple way to explain this. Someone took the body out of spite or fear. Someone removed the corpse to keep the cruel tortuous voice in the world alive. She went to tell the others and they hurried to come and see for themselves. But watch what Mary did after fetching them. For the two came and saw that indeed the tomb was empty, saw all that they needed to see but then they quickly left. Mary stayed and offered a tear-filled vigil. She stayed and offered her own prayers, sadness, fears, doubts and maybe even a tinge of hope. Into that vigil the resurrected Christ came. Into that vigil she heard her name being called. Into that vigil she discovered that life is not simply made up of only things we know and can predict. She discovered that there is a God of love who can bring life out of death, light out of darkness, hope out of despair, forgiveness out of rejection. She discovered that at the centre, the very axis and core of life is not simply nothingness but a Spirit, a presence that is inviting us to draw closer and deeper. The risen Jesus pointed out that what we call finite God reveals as infinite and that at the very heart of what it is to be human is a still small voice calling us to journey nearer. We are bidden to awaken our souls to seek out those places where only one way to view the world is set aside and open our eyes to holiness, wonder, resurrection and a deeper purpose to who and what we are. A deeper connection to the One who first breathed life into us and who continues to bless us throughout our lives and beyond this world.

I did a little research on Joel Achenbach who wrote the recent article in National Geographic about doubting Science. He wrote another article where he quotes Carl Sagan as saying: “The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos.” And that is what we are doing here today as we have gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We affirm that there is an incredible magnificence to this Cosmos and we do not understand it all and neither do we have to. Instead we are called to connect with the One who first breathed life into us, the One who brought back to life Jesus Christ, the One who showers upon us love that goes beyond the edges of this world and this life, the One who forgives all that we have been and invites us to grow into what God hopes of us, the One that spoke to Mary Magdalene long ago and still speaks to us inviting us to also proclaim “we have seen the Lord.” May our response, like that of Mary Magdalene be one to keep vigil to the presence of God moving in this world and in our lives as seen and known to us in the resurrected Jesus Christ.