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April 9, 2023 Easter Sunday

Resurrection of Our Lord

Acts 10:34-43

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Colossians 3:1-4

John 20:1-18

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What had come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

John begins his gospel

with this promise of what is to come

and yet this morning,

Mary begins in darkness

both literal and metaphorical.

three days ago

she witnessed Jesus,

her teacher and friend,

her connection to God,


and at that time the light went out of the world.

But even in the darkness

she is drawn to him,

so while it is still dark

she goes to the tomb,

the tomb in the garden

where Joseph and Nicodemus had laid Jesus

then rolled a stone in front of the entrance.

It’s dark when she sets out,

the dark of the countryside,

there are no artificial lights,

no fires, it’s very dark.

Perhaps the light of the almost full moon guides her,

or perhaps every step of the way

is etched into her memory,

she can get to the tomb of her Lord without a light.

As she travels the sky begins to lighten,

the predawn turn of the sky,

the sun isn’t rising yet,

but it’s about to

and it’s just enough

so that when she arrives at the tomb

she can see that the stone

that has been placed in front of the tomb

has been moved,

this can’t be good,

so she turns and rushes back to the disciples,

to Peter and the other disciple,

we’ll call him John.

As she runs the sun starts to come up,

just a sliver on the horizon,

and when she reaches Peter and John

she cries out the news

that Jesus is no longer in the tomb

(did she pause to look in?

or did she assume this was the case given the stone?

we don’t know)

and in response Peter and John set off running,

first together

then John outpaces Peter.

As they run the sun climbs higher in the sky,

the rosy glow of dawn breaking over them

and it’s just enough light

so that when John reaches the tomb first

and leans over and looks inside

he can see the linen wrappings,

but maybe it’s not light enough

to enter the tomb,

so he hangs back.

By the time Peter arrives,

huffing and puffing,

the sun is up

and Peter impetuous as ever

goes straight into the tomb,

John follows and they see the wrappings lying there

and the cloth that had been over Jesus’ face

rolled up apart from the rest

and we are told they see and believe

(just what they believe isn’t specified,

perhaps that Jesus is truly not there,

we are told they don’t understand yet

that Jesus must rise from the dead)

whatever it is they see and believe

and then they go home.

Which doesn’t really help Mary

who came to them for help in the first place.

She has followed them back to the garden

and now it is her turn to look into the tomb

in the full light of day

and this time she sees two angels dressed in white

sitting where Jesus had been,

and so great is her grief

that this doesn’t seem to register as odd to her,

so single minded is her need to find Jesus

she even converses with them saying,

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

these two don’t seem to be any help either,

so she turns away,

and as she turns she sees someone else,

she supposes to be the caretaker of the garden,

surely he will know where her Lord is,

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

of course it’s not the gardener but Jesus

who is standing before her,

but she is still in the dark,

until that is, Jesus says one word,

her name,


and all of a sudden she knows who it is,

she recognizes that voice,

the voice of the one who knows her and cares for her

and It’s as if all of a sudden all the lights come on at once,

she turns and throws her arms around him crying “Rabbouni!”

Being known by Jesus

has broken through her grief.

Sometimes our grief is like the experience of Peter and John,

healing and understanding come gradually

like the sun rising.

Other times our grief is like that of Mary,

where we are so lost in it

that we converse with angels,

that Jesus is standing right behind us

and we don’t even realize it.

That is until someone who knows us and loves us,

sees us and calls us back to ourselves,

it is in the knowing and being known

that breaks through the grief.

It is Jesus calling us by name,

and like the sheep that know and follow the voice of their shepherd,

we know who it is that calls us,

and we rejoice.

Mary turns and clings to Jesus, with relief,

now things will go back to the way they were,

the nightmare is over

but that’s not possible

the world has been forever changed.

And rather than the end of the story

This moment at the empty tomb is just the beginning

Jesus tells 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.”

What Jesus did

was solidify our relationship with God,

now we have as intimate a relationship with the Father in heaven

as Jesus does

and this is such good news

we are propelled forward,

from the empty tomb into the future

to share this good news with others,

the life, the light of all people prevailed,

and knows us by name,

and loves each and every one of us.

Easter morning starts in darkness

and ends in light,

starts with grief and ends with joy,

easter morning is not the end

but just the beginning.

We celebrate,

we’d love to stay here

but Jesus says go,

go tell others,

and so out we go

proclaiming “We have seen the Lord.”

because the light shines in the darkness

and the darkness did not overcome it.

Alleluia Christ is Risen,

Christ is Risen indeed, Alleluia

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