Sermon, EASTER DAY
Sunday April 16, 2107, St Petri.
After playing “Mary” skit…….
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
He did it. He really did it, she laughs and we laugh too. Whatever we are carrying, whatever we are fearing, whatever we are hiding or pretending to be or do, all drops to the ground with Mary at the feet of this risen man this Easter morn.
The spices, the oils, the cloths, her fears and dashed dreams, her lost love and broken heart, her unclear future and feeling of being betrayed….all now on the ground at his feet, waiting for new joy to win and work and let her know that nothing is wasted.
In just one moment Mary is now proud. She is bold. She is glad. Why so?
Because four things have been buried: Fear, sorrow, sin and death; all defeated in this moment outside the Easter tomb
Mary knew, as we do, that none of us can really beat fear; fear of pain, loss, bad words about us, financial trouble, the shame of not being seen to be a contributor, a winner, being an ‘un-achiever” or “under-achiever”, being “left on the shelf” in relationships, never finally living the dream of a truck load of friends by our side, or a lovely home, or seeing the world….
Mary knew that we are never very far away from sorrow: sorrow for wrong words, hurtful actions given and received, broken relationships, divorce, depression, despair, dodgy behaviour, embarrassing moments, privacy spilled all over the world on Facebook…..
Mary knew that she and we could never beat our sin; our chasing of life in other places and people more than God that lies within us still; our disordered loves; the giving of our heart to things and people that cannot truly deliver what we really need long term – a living breathing Creator who loves and shapes and teaches me, and cares through it all from cradle to grave, from first baptism to the last baptism into his safe grace forever.
Mary knew as we all do that we cannot beat that reality that overshadows us all the way through life – death.
Before this moment her hope for a win was lost. They all knew him. They loved him. They saw him. They heard him. In the throes of dealing with death and its disappointment and loss, she wants to do something. She wants to care for his dead body.
She gathers the embalming things and heads out only to get the shock of her life. Like you and I turning up to the funeral of a close friend and mentor for years only to see that we missed it! She is devastated.
Mary is like a pall bearer who cannot get to the final committal in time. This last act of respectful service she would proudly do for her loved teacher cannot be performed. She must have felt totally robbed and totally ashamed. He deserved better than to have his body left unembalmed, left untended…..
His absence seems like complete defeat. Like a sailor alone out to see with a sinking boat beneath his feet, “All is lost”.
And then the turn-around of all time happens. His absence is not defeat. His absence in the tomb is victory.
He spoke from the cross and now he speaks from the empty tomb to light up this moment of moments.
“Shalom”, he says. “Peace to you”, he says, in that voice of the Good Shepherd they know so well. He speaks her name. It is he that is tending her now. There is no need for her tending of him. The oils, the spice, the cloths, the tending of him now un-needed, along with her fear and sorrow. Now he, the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep’s voice tends his sheep.
“Peace be upon you. No need to fear. I am here. I am still here and will be even more now”.
Friends, we have not come to anoint a dead man today. We have not come to perform some act of dutiful service either.
We have come to cheer with the sinners and rise with the saints. We have come to rise with the Risen, to sing with the angels and those already beyond death to life with him. We have come to clap our hands with Mary and Mary and all the others. We have come to say we are glad and strong and fearless and proud of him.
He did it. He really did it.
It is Easter Day! We have not come to anoint a dead man. We have come to cheer the conqueror of our worst enemy – death.
He said that he would rise.
He did. He has. We have with him in Baptism.
He is the Saviour. He is the only true God of all creation who loves me with a love that is divine and is excelling.
And then the second greatest turn-around of all history.
- Mary the griever becomes the comforter.
- Mary the embarrassed becomes the wise.
- The despairing person becomes the teller of the victory to others.
- A person without a seeable purpose and future is given and called to both by the Risen Saviour right there and then.
- “Go and tell my brothers they will see me”, he says.
The dutiful servant Mary, becomes part of a movement of joy and life. Serving becomes a joy not only duty now.
Same for the others as he see them and they see him eating and speaking and opening their minds to what he had done in those precious post-resurrection days.
And we are the bearers of those delight-filled days. We carry the story now.
So, today, put away the oils and spices of sorrow and duty and striving. No need for them today.
Let fear, sorrow, grief, loss, shame, under-achievement, crazy busyness to get it all done go.
Trust this risen man. Put your faith in his promises that will shift you from duty to sheer delight in the truth that you will not die but live.
Rest. Listen. Receive. Enjoy his victory.
Continue in his call to go and tell brothers and sisters they will see him.
He is Risen
He is risen indeed!