Sermons

"It's Our Story!" Sermon for Easter Sunday, Year C

"It's Our Story!" Sermon for Easter Sunday, Year C

Apr 21, 2019

Passage:Luke 24:1-12

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace

Series: Easter

Category: Hope, Joy, Resurrection

Keywords: belief, easter, hope, love, resurrection

Summary:

Every Easter, we tell the story of the resurrection... the empty tomb... and of the people who found it. We recite this story over and over each year because we recognize ourselves in this story, and it brings us hope.

Detail:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Happy Easter morning!

 This most wonderful service today takes us out of our everyday. It takes us to the most Holy day of our Christian year.

And we are here together, a group of people, who share our common created humanity.

This bright cool morning started, I imagine much like it did for those women we heard about this morning.

We heard that the women on that first Easter are up at dawn.

They have a mission.

There are three of them named... Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary, the Mother of James...are three of the women on their way that morning.

And they are deeply saddened. They are grieved in their souls.

They have been waiting throughout the day of the Sabbath...since Friday--the time that Jesus was crucified...they've been waiting and mourning...

Now that dawn on Sunday has come, the Sabbath is over and they can bring anointing spices to the grave of their Lord... to Jesus.

Anointing his body will be their final act of devotion to their teacher, their rabbi, their messiah...

They walk together in the cool dawn mist. Their figures cast shadows along the path as the sun peaks on the horizon. They can barely hold in their grief, their sorrow, their gloom. At least they are together.

The women arrive at the tomb, and their fear increases! The stone is rolled away! They go in and there is no body. What could this mean? But before they could even try to make sense of it among themselves, two messengers appear.

This is now truly terrifying. Who are these messengers? How did they get here? What's going on? They have even more anxiety. More fear.

But the messengers simply deliver a message: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again."

 In the midst of their fear. In the middle of their anxiety and sorrow. Something happens. They remember. "Wait a minute," one of them says. "Jesus did tell us that!"

"You know," says another, "he did tell us this, we just didn't understand what he was talking about."

"Could it really be true?"

"It must be! We have to go tell the others!"

They arrive back at the house in Jerusalem where the eleven apostles are holed up, grieving.

Mary Magdalene, Johanna, Mary, Mother of James, and the other women burst into the room with a sense of joy... excitement...hope!

They can't wait to share their news.

But the mood in the room is gloomy...hopeless...sullen...

Their Lord and Messiah has died. Their hopes have ended. They don't want to talk to these women. They certainly don't want to listen to them in their current "cheerful" state. Who has time for cheerfulness now?

The women tell them about the empty tomb... the messengers...what they said about what Jesus had said.

The apostles don't want to hear these "idle tales."

"Leave us to wallow in our grief."

They're guarded. They're skeptical. And we can't blame them. They've been through so much.

But then...

Peter starts to remember. Peter thinks back on everything Jesus ever did and said. Peter thinks about all the signs and wonders. He remembers the amazing healing Jesus did along the way.

Peter remembers the thousands of people Jesus fed and taught and inspired.

And then Peter remembers that on at least three occasions, Jesus DID say he would be handed over, tried, killed, and then would rise from the dead.

Peter had just never understood what Jesus was talking about.

Now here these women are passing on this "message."

Could it possibly be that it happened?!?

Peter rushes out the house.

He runs as fast as he can to the tomb. He runs quickly in the morning sunlight.

Peter's grief and suffering have temporarily changed to hope and anticipation.

He arrives at the tomb. He stoops to look in. He sees only the linen cloths by themselves. Peter knows that Jesus has risen.

Peter's hope is fulfilled and has turned to amazement and joy!

I imagine we've all stood where Peter is standing.

We've been in a place where we are just trying to figure out if it's all true. We're piecing it all together and we are starting to see a little light. We have epiphanies in our lives about how God works, and it gives us hope![1]

And at other times, we are definitely like the disciples. We are huddled up in our rooms and in our hearts. We're closed off in grief... We're closed off in depression... We're closed off in disbelief... We can't see where God is in the midst of our current situations.

And, there are times we are like Mary Magdalene,  Johanna, and Mary, Mother of James, and the other women in the early dawn hours. We head toward the tomb with our spices, simply remembering what "used to be." We live in the past, with little thought for the future. We can't bear to move forward more than one step at a time.

There is a reason we resonate so well with the Easter story and the people in it. It is OUR story.

We recognize these people because they are US!

We are all here together, and we tell this story each year, gathered together... because in the telling of the story.... it does give us HOPE.

That hope is there. Even if we aren't feeling it in every moment. The hope is there.

Even if we are in the dark tomb of grief or depression, that hope is there.

Even when we can't feel it or when we doubt, that hope is there.

 And the most wonderful, amazing, incredible part of this story is this:

The one who always loves us.

The one who told us he would be us always.

The one who wants us to share God's unconditional love with the whole world.... LIVES.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen,

The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!  Amen.

 

[1] Thanks to Rev. Linda Pepe for the idea of these comparisons from her sermon: "Easter Sunday Sermon: Just As He Said" at  http://www.theologicalstew.com/easter-sermon-luke-24--just-like-he-said.html