EASTER DAY/YEAR C
APRIL 21 2019
Isaiah 65: 17-25; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18
Opening Words: — written by Rev. Christine Sobania Johnson on her blog, Freshly Squeezed Liturgy.
This new day is fresh with possibility to encounter the Living Christ.
With bright eyes, let us search.
This new day is fresh with possibility to understand the Living Christ.
With engaged minds, let us ponder.
This new day is fresh with possibility to be moved by the Living Christ.
With compassionate hearts, let us feel.
This new day is fresh with possibility to respond to the Living Christ.
With solid devotion, let us follow.
This new day is fresh with possibility to serve the Living Christ.
With humble intention, let us act.
This new day is fresh with possibility to praise the Living Christ.
With strong voices, let us sing:
Alleluia! Christ is Risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
This day is fresh and alive with new possibilities….that’s what this celebration of Jesus’ resurrection teaches us… On this day the LORD has acted; *we will rejoice and be glad in it.
We rejoice on this day because Jesus’ death on the cross of Good Friday, is not the end of the story….We rejoice on this day because in the silence of Holy Saturday, God was about to do a new thing. We rejoice on this day, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, because THIS IS THE DAY that the Lord has acted! THIS IS THE DAY that the Lord has made!
SING (LEVS) 219: This is the Day, this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, Let us rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. This is the day. This is the day, that the Lord has made.
Wait a minute…didn’t we sing that song last year…How can today be THE day - again? Didn’t we hear the same gospel reading the year before…didn’t we sing some of the same hymns today that we sing every year on Easter Sunday? Didn’t we say the same thing last year: On this day the Lord has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it!
Well, of course, we did. And we could say the same thing tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that.
Because our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is not just a one-time story, that happened 2000 years ago.
It’s a new story, every day; a new invitation, every day - fresh with possibilities, to encounter, to understand, to be moved, to respond, to serve and praise the Living Christ…The living Christ, who was raised from the dead, fulfilling the promise of a new creation, a new heaven, a new earth…and new hopes and new joys, for all who dare to believe and proclaim with Mary… “I have seen the Lord”.
The gospel story today begins with Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb and seeing the stone removed from the tomb. She runs to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved: ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
At this point in the story, we have heard several responses to coming upon the empty tomb:
Mary Magdalene sees that the stone has been removed from the tomb. She runs to tell others.
We hear of one who got there first, bent down and looked in the tomb, saw the linen wrappings there, but didn’t go in.
Simon Peter went into the tomb, saw the linen wrappings and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head.
Then the unnamed disciple, the one who had reached the tomb first, and earlier did not go in….now goes in…and saw something…and believed.
As of yet, we are told, that they still did not understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.
Then the disciples went home.
Um, Oh, Ok. The disciples went home.
I’m wondering why…why did they just go home at this point?
What were they looking for? What did they miss? Did it even cross their minds that he was risen from the dead? Did they even remember some of Jesus’ earlier words that foretold his death and resurrection? Did they even believe or hope for a moment, that indeed Jesus had risen from the dead? We did hear that the unnamed disciple saw something and believed. But what about the others?
To be fair, I think it can be pretty easy for us to miss the signs, too…just as the disciples did at this point in the story…
The words of an Easter reflection I read this past week (written by Roddy Hamilton) captures this well:
i never heard it
i never saw it
i was busy sleeping
like the rest of the world
it never made a sound
there was no flash of light
no great roar from heaven
(is that not how it always happens?)
no great hallelujahs
no angelic chorus
no chariots of fire
or mighty army marching
the stone rolled
the grave clothes were folded
and jesus walked free
and no one noticed
The disciples had not noticed yet…..what they had just seen…but Mary Magdalene hung around and indeed, was witness to the risen Lord…
When the disciples went home, Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb; and 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. They 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.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus 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.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus 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.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
“I have seen the Lord”, Mary Magdalene announced to the others.
In the midst of her grief, and tears, she remained there at the empty tomb…she did not just walk away and go home….she must have remembered something that Jesus had said to her that allowed her to remain at the tomb….and perhaps it was Jesus’ voice that finally prompted her to look and see the risen Lord, right before her eyes!
It was a voice. The voice she heard so many times before, who humbly proclaimed love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, hope, and joy… not only in word, but through his compassionate care, and actions that proclaimed the power of God’s love to bring life, out of death…resurrection life out of death…which proclaims that today…is a new day…a fresh new day of possibilities…
So, yes…Mary Magdalene didn’t see any big flash of light, no great roars from heaven, no great hallelujahs…but, in the depths and darkness of her greatest sorrow… she heard Jesus call her name…and she turned…she turned…and saw the Risen Lord....and went to share the good news with the others… “I have seen the Lord.”
Therein lies the seed for the beginning of new day…a new creation…a new earth… a new resurrection-shaped life….that begins and ends in the humblest belief and acknowledgment…that Jesus is alive…and it matters to us today…
On the night before Jesus died, he gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Last Supper with them…
The Lord Jesus, after he had supped with his disciples and had washed their feet, said to them, "Do you know what I, your Lord and Master, have done to you? I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done."
I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.
By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.
By this love, when we share this love, with one another, in word and in action: others will know that Jesus is alive today, and that the Resurrection matters to all of us today…because love….GOD’s love proclaimed to us, in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, has the power to heal and reconcile us to one another…has the power to remove the hatred that infects our hearts and divides us…has the power to build up and encourage one another, and provoke each other to good deeds to build healthy families and communities for all of God’s people…has the power to fill the hungry with good things, lift up the lowly, proclaim release to the captives, set the oppressed free, bring recovery of sight to the blind, unite us to one another, for this life...and the life to come.
On this day the LORD has acted; *we will rejoice and be glad in it.
The Resurrection matters. On this day. And every day.
It’s an old story, but it’s a new story.
It’s a new story, every day; it’s a new invitation, every day - fresh with possibilities, to encounter, to understand, to be moved, to respond, to serve and praise the Living Christ…The living Christ, who was raised from the dead, fulfilling the promise of a new creation, a new heaven, a new earth…and new hopes and new joys, for all who dare to believe and proclaim with Mary… “I have seen the Lord”.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Kids song after the sermon
Alive, Alive, Alive forevermore; my Jesus is alive, alive forevermore.
Alive, Alive, Alive forevermore; my Jesus is alive.
Sing Hallehuiah! Sing Hallehuiah!
My Jesus is alive forevermore.
Sing Hallehuiah! Sing Hallehuiah!
My Jesus is alive.
Rev Julie Platson, Rector
St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church