Monday, May 9, 2011

Easter Day 2011, Year A, April 24, 2011

Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18
Preached by Rev. Jason Haddox

Sadness, sleeplessness, frantic confusion, panic, incomprehension, bewilderment. The disciples are worn out—they don’t know what to do. They saw Him on the cross on Friday morning, they saw him laid in the tomb that afternoon as the sun was going down. And now—the tomb is open, there’s no body inside. What are they to think?

Mary stands, at the end of her strength, at the end of her wits, at the end of her rope. In her tears and confusion and grief she doesn’t even really look at the mysterious figure who appears at her side.

Until he calls her by name. “Mary…”
Then she sees…through her tears, through her pain, through her bewilderment, the One who is there, right there with her.

“Do not hold on to me.” Do not cling to me, do not hold me in a bear hug as if for dear life itself, for there is work to do. We cannot stay here in the garden alone, as pleasant as that might be. I have work to do, and so do you. Go, and tell the others what you have seen and heard. And I will meet you later.

And she does. She goes and tells Peter and John and James and Andrew and all of them. And then Peter, in our Acts reading this morning, goes and tells Cornelius and all his family and household. And Paul writes and preaches to his congregations around the Mediterranean basin. And they all told others too.

And so we are here, two thousand years later and half a world away. Because someone told us. We heard a word, somewhere from someone, that there was good news here. Rumors of resurrection. Stories of salvation. Tales of transformed lives—not just in some vague future time far in the future, after death—but now, here, in this life, in this world. And so we came looking, and wondering. Hoping that it might be so.

And what do you see? Flowers—yes! The floral guild has gone berserk this time! And a very decorated room, and a well-scrubbed congregation. We do clean up well. What else do you see?

A vessel of water, where new birth takes place. An open book, telling of the mighty acts of God among and through God’s people in the past. A group of Jesus’ followers, any one of whom can tell you stories of God’s action and salvation in their own lives.

And a table, set with silver and candles, bread and wine, where in eating and drinking together we meet again the Risen Christ present among us, just as he was for Peter and John, Magdalene and Mary and Martha and all the others.

From this table we are sent, with Mary and Martha and Peter and John, and Augustine and Matthew and Brigid and David and all the others, to tell what we have seen and heard. That Death itself is overcome by Life; that catastrophe and destruction are swallowed up in God’s salvation. We have heard more than rumors of resurrection—and Jesus tells Mary, and us—Go. Tell the others. I will meet you there.

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