I am preaching this morning, my second Easter sermon in so many years. I don't understand why a rabbi would be asked to address a church community on Easter, unless the hope is that s/he would at long last realize that the empty tomb means Jesus is Lord.
A couple of days ago during one of my university classes a guest speaker suggested that the simplest explanation as to why the tomb in which Jesus was buried on Good Friday was empty on Easter Sunday is that God had raised him from the dead. This struck me as odd. Wouldn't a simpler answer be that Jesus' body was removed by his friends, or by his enemies, or that he had faked his death on the cross and, once alone in the tomb raced out, married Mary Magdalene, moved to France, and started a family line that culminates in Dan Brown? Why make supernatural intervention your default position? And what is it like to live in a world where supernatural intervention is considered the simplest explanation of life’s mysteries?
To find out I decided to spend the next day with this hypothesis in mind.
As usual I could not find my car keys that morning, and, rather than blame my wife, my dog, or myself I assumed demons snatched them. When I did find the keys hidden beneath a magazine, I assumed that demons put the magazine on the keys and that God directed me to the move the magazine and discover the keys. I also assumed that demons made me subscribe to the magazine so they could use it to torture me at some future date. God, I assumed, preferred that I save trees and subscribe to the e-version of the magazine which is why He inspired Steve Jobs to invent the iPad, which the Lord wants me to buy despite the demons conspiring to keep me from affording one.
By the end of the day I was totally paranoid. Everything that happened to me was a conspiracy of God and demons. Chance and coincidence were banished, and everything was the result of a cosmic battle. This was not comforting, but I did get a sense that such thinking was a lot simpler than having to deal with the possibility of serendipity and randomness.
Will I share this insight with my listeners this morning as we proclaim the miracle of the empty tomb? It wouldn’t be polite or politic to do so, so perhaps I won’t. But who am I kidding? Of course I’m going to share it! That’s what they get inviting a rabbi to speak on Easter Sunday.