Easter 2023

John 20:1-18
20:1 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. 2 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.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 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. 13 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.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 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.’” 18 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
. [NRSA]


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today we gather to celebrate Easter, the day when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead, conquering sin and death once and for all. This day is the culmination of our faith, the reason why we believe in Christ and the hope that we cling to as Christians.

The reading for today is from John 20:1-18, where we see Mary Magdalene visit the tomb of Jesus early on the first day of the week. When she arrived, she found the stone rolled away from the tomb and the body of Jesus missing. She ran to tell the disciples, who came and saw the empty tomb for themselves.

Peter and John, who were among the disciples, ran to the tomb to see for themselves. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, arrived first and saw the empty tomb. Peter arrived shortly after and went inside the tomb, where he saw the burial cloths that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body. They were lying there, empty.

These two disciples remind us of times that we seek Jesus but do not find him. We pray and don’t find the answers we hope to find. We long for Jesus to show up and we see, instead, only that which is empty and missing. It is truly possible for us to come to Easter Sunday and see the flowers, symbols, and crowd of people and miss finding the resurrected Jesus. Peter and John, leave without finding what Mary finds, first hand. (Let us not leave too soon!)

Mary, who had followed the disciples, remained outside the tomb weeping. When she looked inside, she saw two angels who asked her why she was crying. She told them that she didn’t know where Jesus’ body had been taken. Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t recognize him at first.

Jesus asked her why she was crying and whom she was looking for. Mary, still thinking he was the gardener, asked him if he had taken Jesus’ body away. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” At that moment, she recognized him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

This passage from John’s gospel reminds us of the incredible love that Jesus has for us. He willingly suffered and died on the cross so that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. He conquered death and rose from the dead, proving that he is the Son of God.

But this passage also reminds us of our own faith journey. Like Mary, we may sometimes feel lost or uncertain about our faith. We may struggle to understand the mysteries of God and wonder why things happen the way they do. But just as Jesus revealed himself to Mary, he is also present with us, guiding us and giving us hope.

It is important for us to hear THE foundational story of our faith afresh. Because we might miss it, if not for the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the cup.

We need to scriptures, stories, and prophetic words to be retold and relived so that we recognize Jesus in our current situation. We are called to stick with Jesus. Stay with the breaking of our hearts and put ourselves into Jesus’ hands.

We come to the table of Holy Communion as a moment of faith and renewal. And in finding Jesus, they have Good News to share. Here is our salvation and our purpose.

On this Easter Sunday, let us celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us remember that he is always with us, even when we don’t recognize him. And let us have faith that through his death and resurrection, we too can have eternal life. Amen.

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