Sermons That Work

The Poet…, Easter Day (A) – 1996

April 07, 1996

The poet Maya Angelou, in her poem “Just like Job,” writes confidently of the strength an individual can draw upon in the face of adversity:

My God,
When my blanket was nothing but dew,
Rags and bones
Were all I owned.
I chanted Your name
Just like Job.

Job, shrouded in the rags of repentance, assaulted by every brand of personal and physical disaster, and encouraged to despair by the preaching of his erstwhile friends, nonetheless faced defiantly into the whirlwind of his calamities and sang forth preemptively the righteous victory of God:

I know that my vindicator lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold,
and not another. (Job 19:25-27)

It was no small wonder that, as Matthew’s gospel tells us, two women, early visitors to the borrowed tomb of Jesus, came to that grave with no words to speak but those of sorrow and only one last duty to perform: to bury hope with love. But God had been working in the dark, trampling down death by death, and granting in the pronouncement of an angelic messenger both courage and THE words to proclaim to every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth: “Do not be afraid!…He has been raised, as he said!…Go quickly and tell!” (Matthew 28:5-7)

These are words spoken to us, as we celebrate on the Day of the Resurrection, the Passover of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Death IS conquered; we ARE free; Christ HAS won the victory for all time and forever. It is God’s marvelous and redeeming word, spoken into the whirlwind of disaster, into the clouds of despair, into the dark pain of our world, and into the crippling numbness of human sin and brokenness. Most poignantly, these are words spoken to us in our daily lives, whoever we might be and to whatever task we may be called. Thus we, too, are bidden to go forth in our lives like Job and the sepulchre’s early visitor’s and to say

Into the alleys
Into the byways
Into the streets
And the roads
And the highways
past rumor mongers
And midnight ramblers
Past the liars and the cheaters and the gamblers
On your word
On your word
On the wonderful word of the Son of God.
I’m stepping out on Your word.

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Christopher Sikkema