The Gospel of John 20:1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So, she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
The Gospel of Matthew 28:1-10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Let us pray: Let us commend ourselves and all God’s children to his unfailing love, and pray for the grace of a holy life, that, with all who have died in the peace of Christ, we may come to the fullness of eternal life and the joy of the resurrection. In the Name of the Risen Christ, Amen
(I included both Gospel Lessons as they were both available for this Easter Sunday)
If you were to meet Jesus, face to face as Mary did that Easter morning, would you recognize Him? Would you make the assumption it was someone else, and as she stood there Jesus asked, Whom, are you looking for?” Are we like Mary looking for Jesus when He stands right in front of us, and we don’t recognize Him. On our Easter Sundays we see a lot of new faces in church. Some are neighbors or maybe strangers we don’t know. How do we respond? Do we accept the strangers, and welcome them to join us, or do we ignore them and not pay them any attention? The strangers could be messengers from God or maybe one could be Jesus himself. So, will we be like Mary and talk and listen to the strangers? If you were to see a stranger outside your Church on Sunday morning, do you ignore the person or do you take time to find out who it is and invite them to join you? Here again we hear those words “Do not be afraid; Again, being told by an angel. A messenger, one who brings the word of God to us. Words we should find solace in like Mary did when the angel told her: He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said: Come, see the place where he lay. What does it mean that Jesus is raised? What did it mean for the first disciples and what does resurrection mean for us? First of all, it means that the powers of death are completely defeated. That all of those things that the world thinks are important ultimately do not hold the power they think they hold. That they are false gods, idols that are themselves shattered by the victory of love, of grace, of forgiveness, or peace and of hope. That no matter how overwhelming the powers of death and darkness seem they have already been defeated. It means that we who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus; we who claim this story as our own now have a new calling and a task. A new way of life is now set out before us. For the resurrection of Jesus is both an end and a beginning – it is the end of the power that death holds over us and the beginning of a new life in Christ; the beginning of a New Creation which is rooted in community and takes upon itself the task of proclaiming in word and deed the victorious power of life, of love and grace – of hope. That Hope comes because we can reach out to those who are in need, to feed the hungry, to provide homes for the homeless, to visit the lonely, to work for justice, to welcome those who are wandering, to reach out and embrace all people in Christ’s love, to work to care for this earth and to conserve the natural resources God has given to us, to oppose violence in all forms, to work for justice and to reflect God’s love and grace and acceptance and forgiveness; to stand for peace and to represent an abiding and always present hope. For the powers of death have been defeated already and no matter how they rage and what power or prerogative they claim, Christ has already won the victory. Surprise! Hope is alive; love is here; unconditional grace abounds; forgiveness is available to all, and Peace is showered upon us. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Let us pray: Faithful God as we go out into the world we pray that we may reflect your love in our families, our church and our community; so that the world can witness that we are followers of Christ and draw others into his loving care. This we pray in the Name of the Risen Lord. Amen