Easter Message 2018

John 20:1-18

There she was
Sitting in the darkness
The sunlight just barely beginning to creep in to the world
She was hiding in her memories
Reminiscing about better nights and better days
She was certain that nothing would ever be better again.
She was still breathing
But the air just seemed to rattle around in an empty cavity since she was sure her soul had been sucked right out of her body and there was nothing left inside.
So despondent
So devoid of hope
She didn’t even notice that the figures she spotted in the tomb were angels.
She couldn’t even spot the angels among her, so great was her grief and disbelief.
She just couldn’t believe it.
It was bad enough that he was dead.
The one she had put all her hope into
The one that she had finally trusted enough to love fully, deeply and madly
The one who she was so sure was the one for whom she had been waiting
The one for whom they had all been waiting
She was too sad to move.
She just wanted to wallow in her sorrow, but that damn gardener had to show up asking questions.
What’s the matter?
Are you okay?
Why are you crying?
Ugh.
Just what she needed. Some nosy do-gooder gardener thinking he could make everything ok.
Look, my Lord is dead and I thought that was the worst thing that could ever happen, but of course anytime you ever think that something else comes along to make it even worse, and now someone has taken his body!

She hadn’t even realized that ice had been forming in her veins until she felt the ice melt and blood surge through her body when she heard him speak her name.

Mary.

That was all he had to say.
The fog in her brain is lifted.
The darkness filling her heart is shattered and scattered
The cold that had taken over her body was replaced by warm, radiant light.

And she knew. She knew that this was no gardener. She knew everything.
She knew that even when all hope had fled that Jesus was still there
She knew that even when lost him to the tomb, Jesus was still there
She knew that there would, indeed, once again be days filled with color
and new memories ahead that she would want to make, because.. Jesus.

She grabbed him. Ready to hold on to him for dear life and for the rest of her life.
But he wouldn’t let her keep him there.
He had to go and she had to go
He had to go and return to the Father
She had to go and tell the others
So that their fear would lift, their bodies could breath, and they could begin to live again

And (as I say in pretty much every Easter sermon I’ve ever given) nothing was fixed, but everything was changed.

Resurrection is no quick fix for oppressed people living in occupied territory
Resurrection is no quick fix for lives broken by hate and hurt
Resurrection does not solve our nation’s school shooting problem nor does it cure cancer or end homelessness nor bridge any partisan divide
Resurrection does not mean that death and tombs and grief are no longer part of our world.
It does not mean that our loves ones are not hurting or that our relationships will be miraculously mended.

Resurrection means that Jesus always returns-even to places where death and despair seem to reign
Jesus always returns-even when we’ve given up on him
Resurrection means that even when we can’t see Jesus in the gardener or in the gang banger or in our overly gregarious brother-in-law, Jesus sees us.
In a world where kids are getting shot in schools and in the streets, where civility has gone the way of the dinosaur, where youth soccer and apathy seem to be the death knell of the church, Jesus finds Us
Resurrection means that Jesus finds us in all sorts of places and all sorts of strange and unexpected ways.
Resurrection means that even when we are too far gone to remember our own names, Jesus calls us by name.
God waits for us when we have lost hope
Jesus finds us when we are plagued by fear and doubt.

So here we are on Easter.
Sitting with our own fears
Our own worries
Our own deep disappointments-in ourselves and in others
Our own burdens
Our own doubts
Our own fears for the future

And Jesus finds us again and again and again
Calling us by name
Handing out hope
Promising that even death is not the end
And urging us to go and tell the others.

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