“Behold: A Sower Went Forth” (God’s Work: Our Hands) “Behold, a Sower Went Forth…” What may come as a surprise to some of you what was a surprise…
Easter Sermon 2012
As she walked along alone just as the sun was rising above the hillside she recalled the day when they first met when Jesus had delivered her from seven evil spirits and a life of prostitution. She remembered how, with the other women she had helped to support him and the disciples in their work. She remembered the tenderness in his eyes as they spoke and the warmth and ease of his smile and laughter.
It had been three days since she and the other women had stood looking on from a distance as he strained to raise himself upon the cross crying out with his last breath “It is finished.” As darkness covered the land these words haunted her now as she neared his burial place. She had come hoping to see him one last time to hold, lift and gently turn his body as she properly prepared it for burial and, there, to quietly lament over her hopes and dreams that had died along with him.
What was left for her now? Arriving at the tomb where she and the other women had watched as Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus laid his body she was startled to see that the great stone covering the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away. Fearing that someone had stolen his body, she ran to tell the others. Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved returned with her running to the tomb they entered and found Jesus’ grave clothes rolled up and lying in a place by itself.
The Bible says that they saw and believed yet quickly returned to the safety of the Upper Room, but not Mary Magdalene, who remained weeping outside the tomb. Not even two angels now sitting within the tomb could console her. “Woman,” they asked, “Why are you weeping?” Not until a man whom she had first seen through her veil of tears had mistaken as the Gardner called her by name “Mary!”
Did she realize that her greatest fears had been unfounded. Recognizing Jesus’ voice she cried out to him “Teacher” and ran to embrace him. But Jesus cautioned her not to touch him “Do not cling to me,” Mary “but go and tell the others and say to them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father to my God and your God.”
So Mary ran to proclaim the Good News of that first Easter morning, that Jesus had risen “I have seen the Lord,” she cried out. “He is alive. He is risen.” And looking at the glory of the risen Lord upon her face they wondered to themselves if what she said could be true?
The testimony of the Church throughout the ages affirms what Mary witnessed on that first Easter morning. That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us was buried and raised on the third day that he appeared first to Mary and the women then to the disciples and then to many faithful witnesses.
We believe that Jesus was not resuscitated but that he received a resurrected body and now lives on both in heaven where he is seated at the right hand of God and makes intercession on our behalf but also here on earth where he continues to live on in Spirit within the lives of those who will receive him.
We believe by faith that resurrection is our inheritance that it is something that God does for us in us, in our world that because Jesus lives we shall live also. And we believe that resurrection is not simply about life after the grave but an ever present reality in this earthly life.
How many times have we like Mary stood weeping at the grave of our hopes and dreams: the loss of a loved one, a spouse, a parent, a child. How many of us have stood weeping at the grave of a failed marriage, the end of a long relationship, the loss of a job or a home, a wayward child, the grave of a stolen or lost innocence or severe injustice. Only, in time, to find by the grace of God that the stone in front of our tomb has somehow been rolled away and our life is restored, resurrected filled with new possibilities and life. Like the sun rising again over greening hills the first flowers in bloom laughter rising out of a broken heart resurrection comes to us again… and again.
And we remember the words of the Psalmist “Weeping may come with the night, but joy comes in the morning. Resurrection comes to us and our world every time the poor are lifted up, the sick are healed, an injustice is righted, the lost are found, every time the swords of war are beaten into plowshares and pruning hooks and all tears wiped away from our eyes there comes a new creation. The power of resurrection of God to make all things new again.
How many of us today like Mary are still weeping beside the grave of our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, shame and grief’s to bear.
Listen, Jesus is calling to us. “Why are you weeping?” “I died and behold I am alive forevermore. Because I live you will live also not only in the life to come but, here, today, in this earthly life if you will only believe?
Friends, this is the good news! Because he lives we shall live also. The Lord has risen. He is risen indeed.
Let us pray
On this beautiful Easter morning
May you arise anew within our hearts.
If there are any today
despairing beside the grave of
Unrealized hopes and dreams
May they hear your call
“Why are you weeping.
Because I live you shall live also.”
Come and save us, Lord
Deliver us from our fears and unbelief
Set us lose again
And let your gentle rule fall upon our hearts
That your kingdom may come on earth
as it is in heaven. Amen.