19 Apr Easter Sunday – All Things New
1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.‘” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
40 days – it’s a long Lenten journey to Easter. Don’t rush through this morning. Stay. Still. Our hope has come.
The 40 days of Lent are behind us, and the 50 days of Easter are just beginning.
Our Re:Lent sermon series finds its fulfillment in today’s worship service – Resistance finds its completion in an Easter revelation. He is risen. He is risen indeed.
What difference does Easter make?
1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
We know about Easter, but does it make any real difference in our world? We know about resurrection, but does it provide any tangible hope for today? We know Jesus lives, but does it change how we live our life?
Mary is on her way to mourn the loss of the one most dear to her. She’s entitled to a good cry, because all feels lost. On the cross, they took her teacher’s life, and now it seems someone has taken his body….But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
While it was still dark – as the previous night’s hold begins to slip away into the deep blue haze of a new day about to break forth (Andre Peterson calls it “the burning edge of dawn”) she heads to the tomb. John’s biblical accounts doesn’t give us any indication of what she planned to do once she got there. Other gospels mention her bringing burial spices, but John doesn’t think to include this. As she arrives at the tomb, I imagine her doing a double take, rubbing her eyes, and staring for a long moment at the stone out of place. Death puts us into a blurry fog – hard to see straight…our vision feels changed.
It doesn’t make sense…and so she runs (frantically) to Peter and the other disciple…breathlessly proclaiming, “They have taken the body, and I don’t know where.”
The race is on as the two disciples dash to the burial site. Peter finishes last, but he is the first one to go in. The body is not there, but everything else seems oddly in place…like a celestial maid service had been turned the room over. They saw and believed…but did not really know what had taken place.
What did they do with this life changing news? They went home. It feels odd…but, what do we do when hear about the empty tomb – we go have brunch…
Mary remains, but she was not alone. Through tear filled eyes she gazes into the tomb and sees angels sitting guard on both sides of the burial slab.
Why are you weeping? Where is your deepest pain this early morning?
We would do well to hear the same question today. Why are YOU weeping? Where is YOUR deepest pain THIS morning? What darkness continues to hold on to you this morning?
It is one thing to celebrate Easter, but it is something else entirely to see resurrection, and so Mary encounters someone she supposes to be the gardener. “Where is the body…just let me know…”
It’s Jesus. He is risen from the dead. He is alive.
Rabbi – Identifies Jesus as the teacher…but also Mary as a disciple. She sees her Lord and a new her purpose. She must proclaim the good news to others. All things are new.
“I have seen the Lord.”
New does not mean everything is known…that’s why we have a season of Easter to gather, to celebrate, to learn, to lean into the light.
Easter is not the end of the story…it’s the beginning of the next chapter – can you see it?
This is always a strange week for me as I have to prepare two very different sermons for two very different services. On Thursday, we gathered in the sanctuary to remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciple and his final commandment to love each other in the same way Jesus loves us. It’s always a very meaningful time because as the service progresses, the sun begins to set, darkness takes hold, and the movement toward the cross begins. The night that begins in joyful fellowship ends in a bitterness of knowing death is near.
I was struck by something on Thursday night as I walked toward the sanctuary. I noticed someone had delivered the Easter lilies to the church library. The beautiful white flowers trumpet resurrection…and I felt a little like a child who catches a glimpse of his birthday presents a couple of days early.
Yes, there is death all around us – slamming the door of this life louder and louder, but I’ve seen the lilies, and they are in the next room.
Yes, this world can be heartbreaking, and we all carry the burdens of disappointment, pain, and grief like a heavy cross, but there are lilies in the next room.
Yes, the powers of the world push hatred, bigotry, cruelty, and war, but I’ve seen the lilies, and they are all around us.
Death is vanquished.
Love never dies.
May God give us eyes to see the lilies are here.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.