Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Sermon 2015

Easter Morning, 2015

The Holy Gospel According to St. John. 

Early on the first day of the week, 
while it was still dark, 
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb 
and saw 
that the stone 
had been removed from the tomb. 

So she ran 
and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, 
the one whom 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 he 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 at the head and the other at the feet. 

They said to her, 

"Woman, why are you weeping?" 

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 and saw 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, "Rabbouni!" (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, 

"I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " 

Mary Magdalene 
and announced to the disciples, 

"I have seen the Lord"; 

and she told them 
that he had said these things to her.

This is the Gospel of Our Lord.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more. 
And there’s nothing you can do to make God love you less.

God loves you. Period. 

And there’s nothing you can do to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Love one another.

Care for the poor. 

Hope for, long for, look for, 

and work for a world where poverty and hunger and death are no more.

If you hear nothing else today, hear that. 

There’s nothing you can do…

Now go do something about it. 

Amen? Amen.

There’s a piece of scripture in the Bible.

It’s not about Easter.

Or the Resurrection of the body

(as we typically think about it on Easter).

But it is about Christ,

and about how Christ appears to us today, and here

It’s also about where to look for Christ

and where to see him,

and about how to try and not mistake him for (“just”) the gardener. 

The piece of scripture (many of you may recall)

is in Matthew, in the twenty-fifth chapter. 

It’s actually the last parable Jesus shares before his death, 

right before he heads to the cross. 

In the parable, Jesus paints a scene of final judgement.

But, of course, judgement isn’t really, at center, what the story is all about. 

It’s not really about separating animals from animals, 

sheep and goats—or people and people—righteous or wicked (as if there was no in between)…

Although the apocalyptic vision, the final judgement is the framework in which Jesus tells the story, the frame in which he paints his picture, to make his point. 

At center, I think, the story is less about judgement, 
and more about presence

About Jesus’ presence. 

About Jesus appearing to us. 

And about how we, like Mary Magdelene, 

sometimes don’t even know it's Jesus. 

You know the parable. 

I’ll read just a small chunk:

Whatever you did to the least of one of these…

You did unto me. 

Yesterday, I came into the sanctuary here to rehearse my sermon. 

Bob was here rehearsing, too.

We were getting ready. 

He was practicing music for Easter Vigil, and I, of course, was working on this morning. 

Jesus was still covered up, veiled from the nights before. 

Finally my sermon was ready. 

I’d been thinking a lot about Mary Magdelene who stood and wept

and all the women who showed up

and even cared for Jesus after his death, 

when the disciples had fled into denial and fear.

I felt pretty good about it,

so I went to print it in the office, 

over in the community center.

And as I went in, 

up those squeaky old steps, 

onto the squeaky old landing, 

there, at the top of the steps, 

I saw that the door to God’s Closet was opened. 

So I looked in, but I didn’t actually go all the way in…

And there, the 2PM sunshine was shining sideways through the windows.

And immediately, every thought about the sermon,

the great story I had planned for a sermon illustration,

all of it was gone.

Because right there,

right next door to this beautiful sanctuary, 

it’s depiction of the Resurrected Christ, 

And all the books from which we proclaim the Resurrection, 

Right there, next door, 

I saw the empty tomb!

Even before Easter! There was the empty tomb. 

There was Resurrection. 

The door was ajar, so I looked in. 

There was Sonia Mujica and Elma Rubio,

in the empty tomb. 

There was no body, 

but they were folding clothing, 

placing the clothing at Christ’s head and at Christ’s feet. 

[It could have been any of you, of course, doing any number of things, 
but yesterday, there was Sonia and Elma]. 

They were preparing. 

They were preparing for Christ’s arrival at Easter,

Christ’s arrival in each and every person in need, 

Christ’s arrival in each and every one of us. 

They showed up. 

And they prepared. 

Just like the women at the tomb. 

What better way to prepare for the Resurrection?

What better way to prepare for the Resurrection

then to live into the promise, 

to do the acts of love that Jesus always talked about while he was alive, 

What better way to prepare for the Resurrection,

than to do what Jesus taught about?:

Acts of love for the unknown, the unreciprocated, the unappreciative, 

for an unmet neighbor, for a stranger, 

for someone who just might show up, 

arriving from the Cross, or the tomb, or Gehenna, 

some Hell somewhere, coming to a new place, 

looking out, from the tomb, 

to whomever might look back

—a gardener, a god, you, anyone…

for Resurrection. 

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! 

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you more. 

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less. 

God loves you. Period. And there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. 

There’s nothing you can do. 

Now go do something about it. 

Be resurrected. 

Be Resurrection. 

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! 




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