Sermon: Easter Day 2018, April 1, 2018, St Petri
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.[a]
A woman at a well. Three women in the pre-dawn darkness.
A woman isolated, thirsty for acceptance, longing for belonging in the noon-day sun.
Three women in grief’s clutches trying to do something to express their grief in the pre-dawn light.
One woman with a bucket of water that never goes close to satisfying her soul but merely keeps her alive.
Three women with spices and oils with which they can anoint the loved man no longer alive.
All scared. All thirsty for more. All in the dark in one way or another.
Which one are you on this Easter Day?
The thirsty one; the bucket-burden carrying one, the grieving one, the one trying to do something to express that and find some kind of peace?
Are you the scared one who can’t see a way through?
Are you the amazed one who has caught a glimpse of something truly hopeful today in this man and the news?
The water drawing women says, “Your life can change in an instant”. That is true. Hers was changed for the good that day he met her at the well. The other three’s lives changed for bad, so far, in the disappointment and fear of the death and dark.
Same for you and I now.
That diagnosis makes an everyday Tuesday the biggest day of your life so far.
That Friday when the bundle of joy finally comes into your life changes life forever.
That news from the police about one of the kids, shifts your reality sideways never to return to the same spot.
Your life can change for the good or the bad. Which is it today?
Well, something happened that first Easter day and something happens this Easter day and we are changed forever.
What happens when the superior invites the shamed; when the holy invites the unclean, when the connected and loved invites the disconnected, the lonely and the unloved, when the correct and right invites the wrong and the shunned, when the living one invites the thirsty one longing for hope, for love, for new life, when the dead one speaks and tells us to speak?
Does life change? Do you change? It seems so. They all changed on the days they were met by him – at the well and at the tomb. The well woman just has to share the inkling of new hope she with which she is now flooded. The woman in the dawn have somewhere to go and there is not only fear in the dark but the first inkling of the new day – they are ‘amazed’ even when scared.
But all the change hangs on all the truth. That woman at the well heard the truth about her. Those three women had seen the truth about human beings in all their violence, prejudice, cowardice, grief, hatred and cynicism as they condemned this holy man and hung him on that terrible cross a couple of days prior.
Maybe they are still devastated or ‘gutted’, as we say, when they hobble together some spices and head out to the tomb that morning. Darkness has overwhelmed them. “Tears are my only food” they sing with the ancient song writer (Psalm 42:3).
They are in for more shock. Empty tomb. Strange voices. Direction to get out of here…… They run away from the truth of what had happened. It was scary and unknown – at least at first. Truth is often like that.
The well woman was truly seen by him. He did indeed look straight through her in that lengthy conversation that undid her and yet lit her up inside. He spoke the truth of her lost loves and her constant searching for something – for the water of acceptance, family, belonging, respect.
Real change only happens when the truth of things is told and seen. Real courage to truly hope and trust can only come when the truth is told -not in unjust criticism or loveless pride, but in gracious love. That’s the living water for which we all long – truth spoken in love.
To be told the truth by an unfair critic or a self-righteous, self-seeking person is not real truth because there is no love; there is too much human ego in the way for the truth to be told in love. That kind of power play kills us, not raises us.
But to be told the truth about ourselves by a person who is not judging or condemning us but actually wanting us to find the freedom and the faith that the truth brings is gold. It is like water that you only need to drink once – it is that good and that satisfying and that long lasting. Enter the crucified man of love!
Friend, it is Easter Day. It is the heart of our year and faith and life together.
By all that we remember happened and all the words that we have been given about it by the eye witnesses and others, can you hear the truth this morning about you – not from someone who is out to get you and shame you so that you dry up inside and feel terribly alone, but from a man who “knows everything you have ever done”, and tells you about everything he has done to set you free from your fruitless searching, your endless grieving, your continual confusion and fear?
Funny thing about thirst. It kinds of sneaks up on you. They say that if you are thirsty, you have already begun to de-hydrate. Thirst for acceptance, love, hope, life, meaning, and purpose in relationships and work is like that too. When you are seeking them, you have already begun to lack them.
The well women is right. She and we have a thirst that you may not know you have. Know it today though. That rugged cross of despair should tell you that you are thirsty. He said, “I thirst”. This scratching around in confusion in the dark on Easter morn should tell you that you are thirsty. Your own experience of yourself and those around you should tell you that you are thirsty.
We are thirsty. I would imagine that the Australian cricketers are thirsting to be accepted when they have acted shamefully and don’t deserve to be accepted. We thirst to be loved when we have done and said prideful damaging things that have killed love between us. You thirst to be given the gift of peace when you are in turmoil inside and cannot find or give peace. I thirst to be given a name and a place and a status that I have no chance of earning or winning without the truth of this man, the love of this man, the power of this man, the resurrection from death of this man Jesus.
So, today on Easter day he finds you again. Like the one woman he meets you where you are at and speaks his truth and you are a bit scared but also very amazed and lit up with a new possibility of acceptance, future, place, name, hope…
The three woman are not only fearful that are also ‘amazed’ and they are given a direction a future hope, a marker in the sand to reach for.
“He is not here. He is risen. Don’t be scared or troubled. He is going ahead of you. Follow him to galilee. You will see him just as he said”.
Does he sound angry at the one or the three? Does he leave them in the dark? Does he leave them dying of thirst for hope? Does he leave them to their own devices in their fear, their grief their confusion? No, No and No.
Friend, he has found you again today. He is calling you to follow his lead up ahead.
Let him speak the truth about everything you have ever done and who you really are because as these accounts of these women tell us, his truth is spoken in great love and as a result of the great price he has paid for you, and in the authority that comes from conquering our worst fears and our worst enemy for us, so we don’t have to.
Oh Truth, please be told”!
He is the truth and he has found you and he sets you free today.
He is Risen!
He is risen indeed!