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  • Writer's picturePastor Elaine

Easter Sunday Sermon

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I love these words from our psalm today and of course the hymn that came from it!

Today is a great day of rejoicing. We have come through the time of waiting, the praying in the garden, the horror of the cross and the deep sorrow of Jesus’ death.

The sun has come up on a new day. A day unlike any other before or since. A day when a prediction of resurrection became a reality. A day when sorrow and fear were replaced by great joy.

A day when we declare that Jesus Christ is risen.

In each of our Gospel accounts the same truth of Christ’s resurrection is shared even though they all vary and even have contradicting details. It might be tempting to smash the stories together -( as we sometimes do at Christmas!) to try and make all the varied accounts only one. But it can be helpful to remember that ancient histories did not require accurate facts, scientific explanations or quantitative proof. Ancient histories were content to celebrate the unique viewpoint expressed.

Matthew’s Gospel story of the resurrection adds details to Mark’s more austere version.

In Matthew an earthquake accompanies the descent of an angel. The guards become immobilized by fear. And why were there guards anyway? The man was dead. Jesus’ enemies must have feared that there might be truth in his predictions of a resurrection. In Matthew the women experience both fear and great joy. And in this version of the story Jesus appears to the women who then worship him and receive the first commissioning - go and tell my disciples I am coming to them.

We have the familiar words - come and see - go and tell. Just as we heard when the disciples were first called.

But on this Easter morning the story is equally about the women. In the Easter stories in each of our Gospels the women who come to the tomb are named. We are continuing to learn the importance of calling people by name. And as we are very well aware this is often not the case in our Gospel stories. More frequently women remained unnamed, identified only by their gender or their relationship to a man. In the feeding of the multitudes women were not even included in the count.

But in each account of the resurrection the names of the women who went to the tomb are given. Different Gospels, different women - but always named.

In Matthew’s Gospel we hear that Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to the tomb. They are identified as two of the three women at the foot of the cross.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. And they went alone. They carried no spices or materials for burial. They came empty handed. Did they come to see if the predictions made by Jesus would come true?

Who was the second Mary in our Gospel story today? Some say that she was Jesus’ mother, others say his aunt and still others say she is the mother of Jesus’ disciple James and therefore the wife of Zebedee.

Both of the Mary’s are part of the group that followed Jesus and provided for him. They were disciples. They were faithful disciples. It was the women who came to the tomb. It was the women who put aside their fears of the Romans and the Jewish authorities and came to the tomb alone. They were brave.

Matthew tells us that there was an earthquake - how terrifying! But they did not turn and run. They were addressed by an angel that rolled the stone away. They were afraid but they did not run away.

And then Matthew tells us that their fear was replaced by great joy.

And we have the addition of another significant facet of Matthew’s story. The women leave to tell the others and on the way Jesus appears to them.

Jesus appears to the women first. They recognize him - they worship him and they follow his directions again as they leave to tell the other disciples what they have seen and experienced.

These two Mary’s. These two brave women who came in sorrow and then faced their fears and acted as Jesus asked them too. They were faithful and loving disciples, models for those of us who only hear or read their story.

Their sorrow turned to great joy as ours does today.



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