2023 Easter Sunday sermon
Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia!! Grace, peace and mercy be with you all from Creator God, Risen Redeemer and Sustaining Spirit. Amen. Well, it’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? From last Sunday processioning in with cedar branches (and baby clothes) singing Hosanna to the Son of David. Then moving on to Maundy Thursday and feeling hands placed on heads accompanied by words of forgiveness, hearing the water splash as we had our hands rinsed, hearing the new commandment that Jesus gives us “to love another as He has loved us, tasting the wafer and the wine of communion. We continued our journey with Jesus in this Holy Week to Good Friday, and, again, hearing the Passion story of Jesus as he is betrayed, arrested, mocked and beaten, and crucified and dies on the cross. Peace - We could almost feel the blows of the hammer on the nails that pinned Jesus to the wood of the cross. Christ – we heard and felt the hammer blows as were reminded of the nails that were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. Then we left our worship space in silence as we mourned the death of the One we had hoped to be the Messiah. I don’t know about you, but ever since I left worship on Friday I have I have been thinking about the deaths of my parents and the devastating sorrow and pain that those deaths brought to me, my family and those who knew my parents. I have been thinking about those in our faith community who have died and who we miss because of their impact on our lives. The deep, deep sorrow that those who followed Jesus must have been incredibly painful, almost paralyzing. And yet, on the morning of the third day, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, went to the tomb - perhaps to be closer to the One who their faith and their hopes had rested upon; maybe they went to say prayers for the One whom they thought would be delivering the people from the oppression of the Roman army. In the gospel attributed to Matthew we aren’t informed the reason, or reasons, that the two Marys went to the tomb, just that they went. And in incredible fashion the stone is rolled away from the tomb and an angel lets the women know, (Christ) “Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus the crucified, 6 who is no longer here. Jesus has been raised, exactly as it was foretold. Come and see the burial place.” (Peace) “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.Come, see the place where he lay.” Just as Jesus had claimed, so it was, Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia! The message has been proclaimed to these two women who were then given the task, once by the angel and then a second time in their encounter with the Risen Christ, of bringing the message to the disciples that the Risen Saviour will go ahead of them to Galilee and will meet them there and they would encounter their Risen Lord. What an unbelievable event this is for those two women, who went to the tomb with unbearable sorrow and who then encountered the angel and then Jesus, whom they worshiped. HE’S ALIVE! What a monumental joy the women must have experienced. The author of the Gospel writes that the women hurried to tell the disciples with fear and great joy. Our Lord is alive and he is calling the followers out of the locked room to a familiar place where, WE know, they will receive the commission to bring the Good News of the mighty acts of God to all the people of the known world, to baptize and to teach all that God has done through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. The joy, the exhilaration of the risen life comes to us today. We have journeyed with Jesus through this Holy Week and have come to the promise of new life in the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ. Just as Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered Jesus as they were heading back to bring the message they had been entrusted with, I pray that each one of us will have that encounter with the risen Christ in some way in our worship today and through the season of Easter. Perhaps it is in singing the Alleluia again, or through putting a flower on the cross as we think about the new life we have received from God. Maybe it’s hearing the resurrection story for the first time or for the seventieth, eightieth or ninetieth time. Maybe it will be receiving the elements of communion and contrasting the experience we had on Maundy Thursday. Maybe it will be something that the pastor says in the sermon. Maybe it will be over a cup of coffee and having a conversation you haven’t seen in a while, or perhaps it will be over a meal with family and or friends. However we experience the resurrection of Jesus we are called as the women were called to bring the message to those who need to hear, Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen indeed. Alleluia. Just as the two Marys had the encounter with Jesus in the cemetery, and they were told to bring a message to the others, so we, too, have the responsibility to bring that message into our daily lives. The promise of the resurrection is not something that we hope for when we die. No, the risen life in Christ is given to us here and now and it is a gift that we are called to share, to use, to bring others to know the love of God in the risen Christ. Just as each one of us, perhaps, feel the presence of our resurrected Lord in a variety of ways, we are called, in a variety of ways to help others to experience resurrected Christ present with them as well. Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Resurrected Saviour is present in the world through us and through our proclamation of the Good News that Christ is risen. Christ is risen, indeed. Alleluia and amen.