Posted on Wed, Apr 19, 2017
Easter Sunday April 16, 2017
Gospel Text: Matthew 28:1-10 - “Fear and Great Joy”
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
We all have had feelings of stress, wondering how tomorrow is going to go. Did we prepare well enough to impress our co-workers? Did we get the facts and figures straight? Was the PowerPoint done well enough so nobody falls asleep by the second slide?
What about fears of what people will think of us? Are we dressed properly? Heals or flats? Aloha shirt tucked in, or allowed to hang out?
Is the car okay? Kids schedule? I haven’t called mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and the mayor in too long…
What about yourself? I talk too much. I’m no good with numbers. Nobody likes me. I should be doing something different, better, worth more money! We can go on and on making lists about our own shortcomings.
But what about what we think about someone else, and our perceptions of him or her? Oh my goodness, the easiest thing to do when times are difficult is to find fault and blame, where? With someone else… Even the reason we may be running late is always blamed on the alarm clock, traffic, kids, parents, or whatever … however; you can never say you are late because you couldn't find your socks in Hawaii! You just can’t.
And the one thing that seems to make the most demands of us, not our kids, not our jobs, not our retirement… our smart phones!
I can’t believe how distracted we are, or maybe not so much distracted but obsessed with those things that really don’t matter, or for surely, draw us away from the gift called life.
If there would be anyone I could have a meal with, or just listen to, it would have to have been Mary Magdalene. Can you imagine the life she had from the moment Jesus met her? We actually really don't know that much about her. Some ancient scholars, without proof, called her a prostitute or someone like that, but that is not known. The early church never acknowledged her, because she was a woman, but there is evidence that she was one of Jesus’ closest confidants. She was one who was who went from a life of rejection and being labeled with a scarlet letter, to actually being one of the leaders of the disciples. She definitely was stronger than Peter in wisdom and faith, but again, but her gender wasn't really appreciated by the church leaders who put together our scriptures. One thing we are sure of is that she had the courage to confront Peter when Peter denied Jesus, and she had the courage to be at Jesus’ feet when he was crucified. It was Mark, the Gospel without an agenda that puts Mary Magdalene, Mary Jesus’ mother, and Salome all three women focused on the last moments of Jesus’ life.
If you are wondering if about why I commented on all the things that seem to dominate our lives, and many of them are important, I want you to look at the story of the terrible death of Jesus and His amazing resurrection as an opportunity for you and I to really examine our lives and let everything that draws us away from the joys of life the Cross of Christ has freed us to enjoy and live accordingly.
Mary and the disciples lived in a land that was occupied by some very ruthless and homesick Roman soldiers. There was brutality that can only be described as things we have heard perpetrated by Daesh/ISIS in the Middle East. But with their own ears they heard the Truth Jesus preached and she stayed with him. With her own eyes she saw him heal and bring people back to life. And on her own volition, she risked her very life to be with Jesus at his feet when Jesus was on the cross. On the morning of the third day, she was up early, probably because she couldn't sleep, and went to the tomb. Even though she knew the tomb was sealed, she obediently went to anoint her Lord’s body with Frankincense and Myrrh. I am sure she went to the tomb with a sliver of hope, she surely remembered the three times Jesus told them he would rise on the third day after being crucified, but I don't think she had any real expectation.
Try and imagine what was going on in her heart and mind. Everything she thought would have happened seemed to have come crashing to the ground. But, if it weren’t for that faint promise of resurrection, there would be no hope at all…
Of course the story is about death and resurrection. From this one event, our entire cosmos has been changed. Everything there ever was, and will ever be, all of history, wisdom, all hopes and dreams came together on that Cross of Christ. Death and hopeless was destroyed, and the gift of totally renewal and possibilities were born!
What a gift it is for us! The Lenten journey was a time for us to take time and become aware of all the thoughts, demands, hope and desires that draw us away from Christ. Now, we have the opportunity to identify our issues, become of our useless desires and demands and let them die!
Repentance, when done with an honest and hopeful heart makes is aware of our God who surrounds us, lives within us, and guides us into a life full of meaning, compassion and hopefully amazing memories that will passed on to our loved ones.
The baggage we carry, the demands we strive to fulfill, the images that people claim we need to live up to are pure illusion and the source of stress, regret and false desires.
Let this Easter be the time you shed all the attachments that drag you down, and allow God to lift you up to be the joyful, hopeful, creative, and hopeful person you were forgiven to be!
May God’s grace and peace fill you each and everyday. And don't forget, experiencing death and resurrection is not a one-day affair, according to Luther, through the gift of forgiveness, it is a daily experience! Amen!
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