Sermon Easter Sunday (April 17, 2022): He is Risen!
Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! What are we to say beyond this?
Christ is risen and we are forgiven.
If we had read Johns’ version of what happened at the tomb I might follow in Mary of Magdalene’s footsteps - her response to Jesus’ call was the first sermon- “I have seen the Lord”. But that might be a little too brief for today!
Instead today we have heard Luke’s version of what happened at the tomb on the first day of the week. The women who had followed Jesus and supported his work in Galilee had come to the tomb. They had waited til the Sabbath was over and they could come to anoint Jesus and prepare his body properly. And when they arrived they did not find Jesus’ body as they had expected. Instead they were confronted with & greeted by two men in dazzling clothes. And they were terrified.
These devout women, committed followers of Jesus were scared and they bowed down and put their faces in the dirt and were silent.
But these two strange men asked them a question - why do you seek the living with the dead. And then they remembered. They remembered what Jesus had taught. And with this remembrance followed amazement and joy and action. These women became the first of millions who would testify.
Luke does not attempt to explain the resurrection because for Luke it is an article of faith not an observed and reportable fact narrated in the Bible.
The women leave the tomb and rush back to the other disciples telling their amazing tale and full of awe and wonder and joy. And they believed. They are the first to learn of the impossible event. And at first they are dismissed. The other disciples, the men, think it is idle talk. But something must have have niggled at Peter and he goes to the tomb and is amazed and joyful and he believes.
And so the story is handed down through the generations. The story is shared. People testify to what happened - even if they were not there, even if they could prove nothing.
What is testimony? A witness sees or experiences something and is then moved to tell or write about it.
The women are the first to testify to what they have seen and been told. They are amazed as Peter was. Amazement is often the first response to testimony. The story keeps being told and hearers continue to be amazed. Luke tells us that amazingly many believed and told the story and we still are. Our vocation is to be witnesses to the resurrection.
Luke’s version of the resurrection story gives us three important lessons. The first is that God’s ways are not our ways and they are beyond our comprehension. There is no attempt to explain. Whatever we may think the resurrection is about it is far more than that! Secondly, stop hanging onto the dead, give up the fruitless search. Do not seek the living among the dead. And thirdly, the words of the men in dazzling clothes - remember what he told you. It took this reminder to clear the mist from the women’s eyes and minds. The men in dazzling clothes connected the empty tomb with their memories of the man who ate and drank with them, who preached and healed. The women knew, the women remembered. The women believed. The women broke their frightened silence and testified to the others about what they had seen.
The women spoke their own truth.
Put yourself in the place of these early disciples. Think about how you speak your truth about your faith. How do you share this story?
What does it mean for a person to be risen?
How would you describe what happened to Jesus and why he was not in the tomb anymore?
When the women remembered what Jesus had told them, what do you think they remembered?
If you were one of the witnesses with the women, telling the story to the other disciples what would you have said?
This is a very old story but it is made new again each time we tell it. Each time we testify to our faith. Each time we share our faith.
Its time to tell the story again - go forth share the good news!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!