Cycle A, April 12, 2020
John 20: 1-9
“Easter People” By Rev. Liz Miller
I want to start my homily today with a blessing for each of you.
“May the Lord stir in your heart an Easter faith; may the Lord open your eyes to his Easter power; may the Lord inspire you to sing today with Easter joy; and may the Lord bless you today with his Easter love. Amen.”
I pray the Lord will bless you each personally, with an Easter blessing.
Easter is at the heart of what we do here in this sanctuary, in the church, our homes and as Christians. What did Jesus come to accomplish? Christmas is a great holiday and one that most people love. Yet, Easter is the greatest of all the feasts. We need Christmas to celebrate the Incarnation, the coming of God into our world. We need Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross and Easter, the day that Jesus rose from the dead. We cannot have Easter without Christmas or Good Friday. Jesus came to save us from sin and death. It was at the open tomb that he made that possible. He opened the door to us for eternal life. Easter is the day that Jesus defeated death, not only for himself, but also for us.
Can you imagine what it must have been like on that Friday afternoon when Jesus was hung on the cross and the skies turned dark as he uttered his last words. His followers had such dreams for him, and they loved him but all of that was now only a dream. There was nothing left for them. He said he was the Son of God but now he was gone. He was dead. Was their faith shaken to the very core of their being? Had they lost all hope? They must have felt that Jesus had failed, and his enemies had conquered him. The men ran away in fear, all but the women and the beloved apostle went into hiding. They were terrified.
In today's gospel we notice that Mary Magdalene, the first to discover the tomb is empty evidently doesn’t believe in the resurrected life. She thinks someone has taken Jesus. She does not even consider that Jesus might have risen from the dead. Even when she sees Jesus, she does not recognize him until he calls her name. She is thinking logically. How that must have grieved her heart. John arrives and sees the wrappings on the ground and recognizes that something has changed. Jesus is not there. Peter arrives and examines the tomb. Maybe John had some sort of insight to what Jesus was doing. John saw and believed even though he did not understand the scripture that Jesus was to rise from the dead.
I know that if someone died, I would expect that person to stay dead. I would not expect the grave to be empty in three days. How many of us would act the same way as Mary and the apostles? The advantage the apostles had thought was they lived with Jesus for three years and saw his miracles, including the calling forth of Lazarus. How could they forget the teachings of Jesus?
Today, do we just take the resurrection for granted? We read this story every year. Do we live through Holy week and Easter Sunday just as another day or do we take this time to deepen our faith and grow closer to the God who gave his all so we could have eternal life with him/her?
What does resurrection mean to us? To me it is life giving. We need to look at who we are, who we are becoming. We all go through the dark nights, the questions, the pain in life, the Good Fridays, but then comes the morning and we see the Easter sun, the brightness, the hope and we are lifted. The resurrection is new life and a new way of seeing things, a new way of being.
When Jesus appeared in his resurrected body there was no judgment or condemnation for the apostles. Maybe the resurrected life exists in all of us and we are asked to let go of judgment and to see people as God sees them. Maybe we are the ones that cause damage because of our perceptions instead of seeing clearly like Jesus sees. When God created, he rested and on the 7th day and said, “this is good?”
We know there is evil in the world, but we need to go beyond this and see the person that God has made. As Christians we need to see and live the Easter message…Is Jesus asking us to go through a process of new life and look for that which is life giving? With his help, in the dark times we should cling to him and try to piece together the fabric that holds us together, that comforts us, that clothes us, that makes us warm and protects us. We need to take the hand of Jesus and of each other to live the power of the resurrection.
When Jesus appeared outside the tomb Mary did not recognize him until he used her name. He said. “Mary”, and she immediately knew who he was. Today, he calls us each by our name. Jesus came in love and forgiveness. How can we do any less? John Paul once said, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” May we truly live the Easter message and be transformed to understand the extraordinary plan that God has for each of us! The tomb is empty. He has risen, as he said