Easter Gospel (John 20:1-18) and Sermon

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(Transcript automatically generated.)

The holy Gospel according to John the
20th chapter early on the first day of
the week while it was still dark Mary
Magdalene came to the tomb and she saw
that the stone had been removed from the
tomb so she ran and went to Simon Peter
and the other disciple the one who Jesus
loved and said to them 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
toward 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 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 but Mary 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 of
the head and the other at the feet they
said to her woman why are you weeping
and 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 around
Jesus standing there but she did not
know that it was Jesus jesus said to her
woman why are you weeping whom are you
looking for 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 rabbi 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 and I am ascending to my father
and to 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 the gospel of the Lord
I invite you to revisit with me John
2014 right from the middle of this
passage when she that Mary had said this
she turned around and saw Jesus standing
there but she did not know that it was
Jesus I right thought the joyful
resurrection of Jesus Christ kind of
like a dispatch from the front even on
our Most High Holy Day of joyful
celebration it’s impossible to ignore
that we are at the base of a cresting
wave of pandemic viral infection and
rapid-fire government regulations coming
at us each day differently and a hotbed
of reinvention the way that we work live
school the way that we worship it’s
changing every day it feels strange
perhaps to think that this is the
environment in which we would celebrate
the greatest miracle of the church and
the transformation of the world and yet
when we remember the world that the
apostles were living in where Jesus was
preaching and teaching a time of social
unrest a time of rampant injustice a
time of confusion and grief of people
that were struggling remembering the
recent death of a friend it was a time
of pure chaos of overwhelming laws and
of a struggle to find direction so if
Easter could come then is there actually
any more appropriate time for Christ to
reveal himself not just real but
resurrect
and saving them a time such as this I
wish that I could speak in singularly
joyful affirmation that all of our
fellow Christians and friends and family
members and neighbors were all rising
equally to that challenge with
compassion and with vigor but instead I
think it’s more apt to say that we’re
facing this uncertain new world like the
earnest and imperfect apostles that we
are and John 28 1 through 18 we read the
story of Easter that begins with Mary
seeing something unfamiliar happening
around the place where her Savior was
laid now Mary’s first second even third
reaction was not to pray or otherwise
reach out to God and it certainly wasn’t
to express her gratitude for how God is
working instead in her uncertainty she
runs until Simon and Peter fellow
followers of Jesus and haven’t we done
the same within the first week of kovat
19 the living room and the boardroom
Warriors were rising up from their
couches and their desks with enthusiasm
and with gusto the Internet was filled
with emails from every place we’ve
shopped in the last 10 years letting us
know exactly how proactive they are in
dealing with this pandemic virus well
intentioned watchdogs of virtue are
showing up on our photos and our social
media they’re reminding us shouting
outside of wind
parking lot are you standing six feet
apart you don’t look like you’re six
feet apart this desire this overwhelming
compulsion to do something to do
anything just so we can be in some sort
of control over an uncontrollable
situation it is so understandable and it
is also such an illusion marry Simon
Peter were just as powerless and as
clueless together as they were apart
what we can hope though is that they
were a bit less frightened they were
more confident they were braver they
were more resilient alone is perhaps a
bit harder and scarier than with
companionship and support but still
being braver being more resilient being
confident it’s not enough to encourage
us to fully enter into that deep tomb of
mystery where we can actually encounter
and recognize a risen Christ we still
hover on the outside on the edge looking
in but afraid to fully dive deep into
where Jesus may be in a situation that
remains frightening and overwhelming
now speaking of trying to recognize
Jesus in an unfamiliar context in the
context of this story there’s some
pretty strong clues here that we’re
looking great in the face of divine
intervention we have the linen death
shroud pile
in an empty tomb where a body should be
we have a head covering neatly folded
and set apart almost as if it was
removed by unhurried hands we’ve got to
make glowy angels sitting right there
Mary of course sees all this including
two mega angels and she thinks must be
the gardener clearly nothing to see here
clearly not God working in the world
blessedly even without the recognition
of heavenly handiwork moving all in and
through the situation God is still able
to move with freedom God is able to ever
patiently create more and more
opportunities for us to see to recognize
to enter in and to know in short we get
plenty of chances to catch up when we
look right at the face of Jesus and miss
him in this particular passage it’s not
until Jesus uses his teacher voice on
Mary but the blossom of truth can really
flower in her heart and she says the
word teacher to Jesus and finally knows
him when Mary remembers that she is a
student when she surrenders to a
position of openness and learning that
is when truth is revealed even then the
first thing Jesus says to her is don’t
hold your absolutes too tightly the
lesson Jesus shares with her today’s
truth may be tomorrow’s journey
it is only when we approach a situation
with a sense of possibility and openness
and a willingness to learn looking for
nothing except where Jesus may be that
we are able to truly see and interact
with and receive the loving blessing of
Jesus who is absolutely present we’ve
seen a lot of those moments of
Revelation that come only with surrender
and humility in the church and in the
world throughout our past we’ve received
so many gifts as we’ve welcomed into the
church people of color as visionary
leaders as we’ve welcomed women as
dynamic teachers as we’ve welcomed
lgbtqia+ people of faith as powerful
creatures as we’ve invited the poor and
the differently-abled into our
communities and learned from them and
seen the wisdom that they bring as we’ve
recognized the gifts of unexpected
diversity and recognize that the wider
we open our doors the more ways we get
to see Jesus working it’s been an
incredible journey generation after
generation but it happens only when we
can stop talking past each other using
stubborn arguments about how the way it
has always been done must be the only
way that truth can be revealed that only
by using our past experience and our
conventions can we understand when a new
thing is being created and Jesus comes
to tell us that he brings a new
thing how many times have we looked into
the face of Jesus and said he don’t look
like he looked the last time I saw you
so clearly you must not be there until
we surrender our illusion of control and
stop forging boldly ahead on narrow
paths we cannot conceive the gifts of
another way the wide fields and new
roads that are on every side it has been
a joy to hear from people who have not
been in these doors in years who are now
watching us online and saying thank God
for bringing the gospel those who pray
only on Sundays who are now praying each
and every day who have created sacred
spaces in their own homes who are
sharing the word who are seeing how they
can possibly give back to the church in
ways that they never did before the way
that we’re seeing flowers and food
appear on doorsteps the way that we’re
seeing community connections and hubs of
service and help form in neighborhoods
where before we didn’t know the name of
our neighbor
Jesus is in and through everything about
this Easter and everything about this
time of the trial can we see him until
Jesus completes his journey fully these
earthly adventures about Easter and the
period of Lent but it doesn’t end
the period of preparation because we
continue to wait for Jesus return and
until Jesus comes back to this earth and
unites the kingdom of Earth and the
kingdom of heaven we remained students
learning how to recognize Jesus in a
shifting landscape of face covering and
curfews we’re seeking community and
affirmation and practicing what
self-care we can wear empowering our
faltering nerves and are excited to
stumblings and through it all the savior
is ever-present known and unknown
leaving signs everywhere and anywhere
that we are ready and willing to receive
them and so beginning with Easter not
ending beginning with Easter I will say
it once more
beginning with Easter not ending we go
boldly into the new and the unknown as
seekers and as receivers we know that we
will most certainly miss the face of
Jesus because we are still grieving and
were scared and were confused and were
lonely but Jesus will still be there we
are still loved God is still without
fail working so I say God of all life of
learning and of inspiration be with us
in this time of pandemic and of Easter
help us be Church together with
compassion and openness with patients
and with thoughtfulness inspire us to
receive new understanding and to serve
your timeless command in ways that speak
to our modern context with faithfulness
and with respect
grant His grace and mercy when we fall
short and help us know you in all places
and involved situations
in Jesus lovely name we pray amen