Easter 2015 Sermon

When we look for the living Jesus, we shall see the Lord.

 

She walked back to His tomb in the dark after a day of complete numbness.
A day of wondering, “what was the point?
‘Why did we go with Him to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and raise up the poor and the lowly?
“Why did we go and eat with sinners and prostitutes and tax collectors, telling them all they were welcome at the Father’s wedding feast?”
Giving hope to those who could not afford hope.

 

And now dead. Betrayed by a fellow disciple and friend, betrayed by the leaders of her people.
Handed over to the Romans!
The Romans who had conquered and oppressed her people for so long.
The Romans who nailed him on a cross like a slave.
Nailed him to the cross as an enemy of the emperor.
Another in a long line of martyrs.
What is the point of it all?
She walks back to His tomb just to be near his Body. Bruised, and broken, and cold.
Just to be near what remained of Him for her.
A dear dead body that she clings tightly to in her heart and will never let go.
Mary arrived at the tomb.
It was open!
What happened to his body?
Grave robbers?
Had the soldiers come to satisfy more of their cruelty even on his dead body?
She could not bear this.
How could they do this to Him?
How could they do this to her?
She would be lost until she had His body back safely.
She ran back and brought Peter and John.
The three of them ran to the tomb. Peter and John look inside.
They told her His body was missing.
They told her His wrappings were on the slab. And then.
And then Peter and John went home and left her by herself.
Alone by the tomb of her master.
Weeping.
She had to look and see for herself.
To prove to herself that the body she desperately wanted to find was really not there.
So she bent over, and looked into the dark tomb.
But the tomb is not empty and it is not dark.
She sees two angels of God, shining white.
The Angels ask her, “Why are you weeping?”
But even the presence of angels cannot break into her grief. Maybe the angels know where they have taken her his body.
She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him. She felt someone behind her.
Sees him out of the corner of her eye.
It must be the gardener.
She stands up straight, and turns around. He asks her, "Woman, why are you weeping?Whom are you looking for?"
She tells this man what she wants most.
She wants to recover the dear body and keep it safe.
"Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
Mary.
Jesus, the real Jesus, the Living One, calls Mary by name.
Mary.
On hearing the living Jesus call her name, Mary drops her frantic search for a dead body.
On hearing the living Jesus call her name, Mary is freed from her bondage to the past, freed from her own hopeless expectations about the future.
On hearing the living Jesus call her name, Mary cries out in recognition, stabbed by joy – Rabbouni – Teacher!
And Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father."
Jesus tells Mary not to hold on to her dead idea of Jesus.
Jesus tells Mary, I am alive!
I am alive now!
I am real now! I am here in front of you!
Leave your grief, and numbness, and clinging behind.
We have work to do.
Jesus tells her “go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.
And Mary Magdalene does what Jesus asks her.
Mary runs and tells the disciples the Good News.
“I have seen the Lord!”
We disciples today need to look for the risen Jesus, not merely our old dead idea of Jesus.
Christ is risen, and when we look for Him, we shall see the Lord.
When we look for the living Jesus when we pray, we shall see the Lord.
Someone once said that “one of the biggest problems with our prayer is that we often pray as if God did not exist.”
We too often pray as if Christ is safely buried in his tomb, or is locked up in the pages of the bible, or is the personal property of our churches.
Sometimes we don’t pray, wondering what we are doing talking to ourselves.
To this, Jesus tells us, “do not hold on to your dead idea of me!”
I am alive now!
I am real now!
I am here in front of you!
Jesus wants to love us and be in a personal relationship with us, both individually and as a community.
Not as a thought or a belief in our heads.
Not as a picture or a statue.
Not as words on a page.
But as a living real presence.
Closer to us than our breath.
I invite you to look for the living Jesus when you pray.
Both talk, and then stop and listen, to Jesus and make the bet that Jesus is alive and loves you.
Try it.
Even if your mind cannot believe now that Jesus is alive and is real, then pray and open yourself as if Jesus is alive and is real.
Try it and see what changes in your heart and in your mind.
Try it starting today.
And when we look for the living Jesus in our families, we shall see the Lord.
The Lord comes to us in all people that we meet in our lives, but perhaps especially so with those we spend the most time with – our parents, spouses, partners, and children.
But it is very easy for us to be imprisoned by old hurts, old divisions, old grudges, and old grief.
We get stuck in the tomb of “the way things used to be” and are blind to the possibilities of new ways of relating to each other, forgiving each other, and loving each other today.
But Jesus tells us, “Do not hold on to your dead idea of me.”
I am alive now!
I am real now!
I am here in front of you!
Jesus is alive and working in our parents, our children, our spouses, our partners, and ourselves.
Working, in Jesus’ own time, on transforming all of our worst sins, hurts, and failings into the very means of His love and strength.
I invite you to look for the Lord alive in every member of your family and changing them and you into the people and family God intended you to be.
If your mind cannot believe it yet, act toward your family members as if it were true and see what will happen.
Try it.
Try it starting today and see what happens.
When we look for the living Jesus in neighborhoods, we shall see Lord.
Jesus calls us to live together as His beloved community.
Jesus calls us know and love our neighbors and live in friendship with them, whatever their race, gender, class, religious belief or lack of religious belief.
Jesus calls us especially to stand in solidarity with the poor, the stranger, the orphan, the laborer, the prisoner, the sick, the marginalized, and the forgotten, knowing that whatever we do to the least of these brothers and sisters of Jesus, we do to Jesus himself.
We often can let our fears keep us from talking with our neighbors.
We can often convince ourselves that we are too busy to spend time talking with people—who knows what they might ask of us?
We can even distract ourselves with our phones and gadgets and come to believe that facebook posts, instagrams, and tweets somehow are a real community.
To this, Jesus tells us, “Do not hold on to your dead idea of me.”
I am alive now!
I am real now!
I am here in front of you!
I invite you eto reach out and get to know your neighbors—their needs, their fears, their hopes, and their joys, as if Jesus is really present wherever two or three are gathered.
Develop relationships with your neighbors and see how you can love and serve them as you love yourself.
Try it.
Even if you mind does not believe it, look to find the Risen Lord in all of your neighbors.
Most particularly those neighbors who might be hard to like or relate to.
Then act towards your neighbors as you would hope to act towards Jesus if you met him on the street.
Try it starting today.
Then see what happens in your neighborhood.
And when we all start looking for the living Jesus, see what happens in our city, our state, our country, and our world.
Christ is risen, and we shall see the lord.
When the risen Christ becomes real to us, our hearts are set fire with love, our families become what God meant them to be, and the Kingdom of God becomes visible on the Earth.
And when that happens, we will run to tell others.
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen indeed!
Alleluia!
We have seen the Lord!
Amen.

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