Christ is Risen!
This is always the good news of Easter! Always has been and always will. This year has been different of course. What is usually a very busy weekend with a number of services has been quiet. In lieu of an Easter Vigil last night (although a number of dear Priest friends were doing them online) I opted to re-watch the Passion of the Christ without distraction (my phone). I vividly remember watching it when first released in 2004. At the end of the movie, the entire audience left the cinema in silence. Again, it left my in silence.
As per request I am posting an Easter Sunday sermon. This was from last year. Still good!
He is Risen Indeed!
Acts 10: 34-43
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father. Amen.
Jesus is Risen. That is the message of today. I know that and you know that too. I kind of want to sit down now!
We come together this morning as brothers and sisters in Christ to celebrate what was done for us by Jesus on cross, we it meant and what it continues to mean. My hope this morning is that as we hear again the familiar story of the empty tomb, the reactions of those who were that we can put ourselves somewhere in the story of that first Easter Day.
Luke’s account has slightly different details than the other gospels, this doesn’t mean it is better or more accurate than any of others. Luke’s perspective is just different. I read through verses 1-12 with a stop every few verses with a thought or reflection with a brief pause.
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.
• These women, who had been at the cross, went to the tomb expecting to find Jesus’ body; they had seen it hanging on the cross so knew the condition it would have been in. They were prepared to finish the job of preparing the body. But they did not find it.
• We can only imagine the shock and surprise these women faced. There was a body yesterday but not today!
• How do we do when our expectations go unmet? When we turn up, ready to complete the job, meet that person, do what needs to be done and we can’t?
While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
• Are we looking in the right place for things? Are we looking among the dead? Do we do the same things time after time but expect different results? Do we treat people the same way, with the same expectations – but want a different response? Maybe it is time to look somewhere new?
He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words,
• Sometimes we too need to remember what we know about the promises of God. He did not come to meet our expectations but to meet our needs. This is cold comfort sometimes. I think this is why many people struggle with God; he doesn’t act or behave in a way that would make life more convenient or easier for us.
• Jesus rose again on the third day so that we could be with him forever, be forgiven and freed from our sins.
and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
• I’m not sure about you – but I struggle when I am not believed. If I am telling someone about an event or situation or telling a story, I expect that I will be believed. I like to think that I am a credible person!
• We have some idea of what these women have been through – the disciples (the men) all left Jesus on the cross as they couldn’t bear to watch. It was these women who were up early to get to the tomb to finish the preparations. The grief they must have been feeling. And now the hurt of not being believed.
• There is something in this about how I believe other people when they share their stories with me. Do I hold the same level of entitlement to be heard and believed that I think I deserve to other people? I think of some recent encounters with people and I have had to think seriously about this very issue. Am I treating the stories of others as an ‘idle tale’ or the real lived experience of another human.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
• Luke has Peter going to the tomb by himself. Matthew and Mark make no mention of Peter, John puts himself and Peter going to the tomb.
• Evidently Peter believed what the women had to say so he went too. Maybe one of the unnamed women was his wife or mother-in-law whom Jesus had raised? Anyway, something that Peter heard was enough to get him out of the house and on the road. Remember too that Peter was the one who had denied Jesus three times as Jesus told him he would. We again can only image how Peter must have felt that next day – his grief, his shame could only have been overwhelming.
• Now maybe in his mind Peter had a way to make things right. He saw the linens clothes by themselves and went home amazed at what has happened.
• What would it take to be amazed about the death and resurrection of Jesus today? Have we become complacent in our faith? Has life worn us down and we no longer feel that Jesus is bothered with us?
Friends be reminded again that He loves you, that everything that happened in that week 2000 years ago was for you today. As we hear these verses again let’s try to renew our amazement of all that Jesus did and continues to do for us.