Easter Sunday YEAR C 2022
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O resurrected Risen King, we praise you on this Easter morning with glad and grateful hearts, eager to shout your glory! The Tomb could not hold you. Fill our family with a love that is shared between us and freely given to everyone we meet.
It is soooo good to see you, here in this space, surrounded with Lilies and smiles on your faces. I pray your day today be filled with deep gladness and joy. Thank you for coming and being present, to see the flowers, hear the story, and be present with loved ones or by yourself. Wherever you are on your faith journey, we welcome you into the story, the song, the joy of this space.
If we are being honest, we have all needed Easter tremendously in the past two years.
Easter is the celebration of God’s love for the world, God’s sacrifice of love to redeem the world, to remind us all that regardless of what happens, no one is beyond his embrace. Each of us are all invited into a new chapter, a new beginning once we too, lean in and accept this love.
And while the story of Easter begins even before the birth of Jesus at Christmas, today we find our selves listening to the story of a new dawn and with a bit of a relay and foot race. Everyone is running to and fro.
Running means urgency, compelling, speed is needed.
Running can be grace filled and it can be undignified, it’s pressing, a turn of events that changes all of the next steps. We run when we need help, we run when we are afraid, we run to share good and bad news. In seminary, I was told “never run in your vestments….it makes people anxious. ”
Today, we are invited into the wee hours of the morning and we arrive with Mary Magdalene who most likely walked slowly to the tomb.
Mary expects to find Jesus in the tomb as one should, she should have found the tomb with a large stone in front of it and everything quiet and still. Birds waking up and starting their songs. The space quiet save the noises that occur at dawn.
And she finds the unexpected.
The stone rolled away, the tomb is empty.
You can imagine her fear that someone has stolen the body.
You can imagine her thinking “is this the right space” and retracing her steps to find the right markings for the tomb.
You can imagine her anger at this absence and change in the routine. Expecting the expected and receiving instead the unknown.
And she runs.
She runs so fast that she is out of breath.
She doesn’t run to hide, she runs to friends, to Peter and John.
She relays the information to those who might assist, help her to understand.
Waking them up and shaking them, she uses all of her remaining breath to tell them all that she knows. “They have taken the Master. We don’t know where they have put him.”
They have taken him.
We don’t know.
And the two run.
They run as fast as they can.
John arrives first but allows Peter to go inside first.
Was this deferential? Was this out of fear?
Using all that they have, they go, go as fast as they can to see for themselves.
And they saw the linens folded and left behind.
And they believed.
Believed that something new was happening.
Believed that what Jesus had told them was indeed reality.
Believed that the grave could not hold God.
Believed that there was hope.
Perhaps they walked home… or ran, or talked, or were speechless- in awe and wonder. One thing is for sure the path they took home, while it was most likely the same rocky path they ran to get there, it was different, changed by the fact that the end of their long week ended very differently than they had expected.
Somehow God became a little bit closer in this empty tomb.
Well, Mary lingers at the tomb.
Mary lets her emotions, her tears fall.
Tears of exhaustion from a week of intimate dinner, betrayal, conviction, crucifixion, and now an empty tomb.
She empties herself out with tears right there as close as she can get to where Jesus last was.
In her emptiness, she is met by two angels.
Angels who are curious and comforting to her.
She doesn’t hide her thoughts from them but is open to her sadness.
Jesus meets her where she is, right there with ugly tears streaming all over her face, Jesus invites her to share her pain and her sorrow.
Jesus transforms that sorrow by calling her by name.
Mary, which means “Beloved”
Beloved, here I am.
Mary who lingers wants to linger longer. She is comforted and welcomes the transformed Jesus in her presence and she wants to hold on and have all the answers, sit at his feet again, one more moment, one more answer.
Jesus says to her, “Do not cling to me. Go and share, go and tell that you have seen me.”
And Mary does, she goes, she runs and shares (and her sermon is much shorter than mine today) with four short words she preaches the first sermon, “I have seen the lord.”
I wonder where you find yourself in this story today.
What have you felt has been taken away from you, like Mary who in seeing the empty tomb assumes someone has stolen the one she loves. How do we resolve the unknown?
Your plans have not gone according to what you thought.
Open doors were transformed by diagnosis, expectations were dashed, exhaustion has set in and all you have are tears left.
Are you like John who is in the midst and yet not quite ready to go in, be first?
Are you like Peter, ready to be first, to respond and find out for yourself?
Do you run head long into the mess and see for yourself in order to move forward?
Are you rushed in all you do?
Thinking that if you get in there, you can fix it all?
Or until you see it for yourself, the truth isn’t true?
Belief comes with personal experience.
Beloved ones, the Easter message is that in each of our needs belief is given.
Exactly in the form that we need.
Peter and John needed to see the empty to tomb to believe that Jesus had risen.
Mary needed to see the Angels and hear Jesus call her name to understand more clearly.
Each received the affirmation for them to move forward, to still wonder and also be encouraged, to share an inexplicable smile revealing the knowledge that even in death life is transformed and God’s love triumphs over death.
God’s seeking us out and meeting us where we are comes in the most unlikeliest of ways.
We find God in foot races to see for ourselves
We find God in the midst of our ugly crying and sorrow.
We find God in the midst of our desire to cling to what was before.
God says to each of us, “Beloved.”
Jesus calls our name, meets our foot race foot by foot and calls us to see the new chapter, the new opportunity. The new beginning.
The love of God in turn, transforms our path. The same love that brought us here takes us home with eyes that see the world transformed with hope. Transformed with the assurance that God has not left us but has transformed all that can bind us, that can hinder us, that can limit us.
Brene Brown says “only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the power of our light.”
Mary, John and Peter come to the tomb in the darkness and find light and a new chapter.
As we are sent out of this space “to go in peace to love and serve the lord” with whatever pace you might have, set your feet to take one step at a time.. knowing that you, too, are not alone and that your path is transformed with the love and hope of a God who has lit the path with a love that transforms the world, including you and your path.
And to that we say “Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia.”
Let us pray:
As we throw off the sin and the shame of yesterday, let us dance in the promise of the new morning of today and tomorrow and ever more. Amen