Kenora Easter Sunday
4 April 2021
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Love divine, in raising Christ to new life you open the path of salvation to all peoples. Send us out with the joy of Mary Magdalene to proclaim that we have seen the Lord, so that all the world may celebrate with you the banquet of your peace. Amen.
Today is the most amazing day of the Christian calendar, but I’m not telling you anything new.
Today, the women who go to the tomb become our first proclaimers of the resurrection.
Today we see Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb to properly clean and prepare Jesus body for burial, only to discover that this task isn’t needed because Jesus isn’t there.
“5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.” (Mk 16:5-6)
But this doesn’t mean that today’s text is ‘normal’ in any way. Rather we see the full gamut, the full spectrum of human emotion as well as the fact that these three women are commissioned to be the bearers of the news of the resurrection, the Gospel, the Good News.
The day begins with mourning and sadness, as they go to the tomb. These women watched, on Friday, as Jesus died on the cross.
They watched as Jesus was laid in the tomb without the proper preparations for burial, and they made plans to return, today to do what couldn’t be done on Friday.
And, so, today they return to the tomb to perform the last loving acts for our Lord and Saviour, only to discover the stone is rolled away, and Jesus isn’t there.
Rather they encounter the young man dressed all in white.
So, now, we see these emotionally drained, grieving women are confused. Things aren’t as they expected and to add to the confusion, is the revelation, and the message the young man gives to them, to proclaim to Jesus’ followers.
The heart of today’s message is here, in the words of the young man: Look, See, Go, and Tell.
“6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mk 16:6-7)
In one fell swoop, they’ve gone from grieving women out to fulfill a woman’s role to prepare a loved one for their eternal rest, to women commissioned by their witness of Jesus’ resurrection as they’re asked to carry this news out into the world.
And this is frightening!
Those of us called to Ordained Ministry, to Holy Orders we do this by discerning where and how we are called to serve, and our preparation for such roles then follows from that discernment.
But such discernment isn’t just for the clergy in our lives, rather it’s a level of discernment that all Christians need to embrace, and in which we participate to discover if such a path is for each of us, and a path that possibly we’ve not considered before.
And the path to fulfill such a call is often as unique as those of us who are called to fill these roles. But for the two Mary’s and Salome, their path to this life of proclamations has been different.
For these ladies, in the past three years, they’ve heard Jesus’ teaching, and they’ve seen his healing of all who come to Jesus, from the sidelines, from the point of view of those ministering to Jesus, and to the apostles.
But that doesn’t mean they’re unprepared.
Rather it means that this path that they’re being asked to walk is unexpected to them, but not to God.
It means that when Paul tells us: “28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) we’re living this out to the world when we listen to where the Holy Spirit leads, and bravely step into the paths that are laid before us.
And we see that lived out here, today, in the vacant tomb.
We see that lived out in the unexpected acknowledgement of the role the women play in spreading the greatest news; the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
“They saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mk 16:5b-7)
But saying that doesn’t mean that they’re prepared for this sudden shift to centre stage in their lives.
The gospel tells us that “8 they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mk 16:8)
And, having read this, we also know that, at some point not too long after this encounter in the tomb, they do proclaim the risen Christ.
We know that they do proclaim that Christ has gone before them to Galilee because the gospel tells us this, and yet the honest, raw emotion of the ladies’ experience in the unexpected turn of events, today, is here.
So, then, how are we able to live into this text in each of our own lives?
What does this look like from our perspective, when we stand in the door of the tomb, and hear the words of the resurrection, yet are asked to share that good news?
What does it look like when we, in the tasks of our lives, find ourselves called to share the glory of God, the love of Christ, the miracle of the resurrection?
How do we feel?
How does such a task to proclaim our faith to those most in need of our witness, our words affect the next steps in our lives?
The women find themselves confronted with the commands to Look, See, Go, and Tell, and they’re initially overwhelmed. But we know they did go and tell what they saw, heard, discovered and were told, or the gospel would have ended with Jesus’ burial on Good Friday.
And what if we find ourselves called to live that message throughout every facet of our lives?
We at St. Alban’s, in Kenora, are blessed in our worship and ministry leadership, both lay and ordained, past and present.
And I’m sure, that, if asked, all of our clergy and our lay leadership would gladly tell of how they heard these same words from the angel messenger, this call to their roles of leadership, to Look, See, Go, and Tell and how it’s changed and continues to change our lives.
But it’s not just the clergy, and the acknowledged lay leadership, who are called and who need to discover how we are called to be here, today, in the life of St. Alban’s. And this brings the question back to each one of us.
We stand in the doorway of the tomb, hewn in stone.
We’re the ones who are already amazed that the stone has been rolled back, and we’re flabbergasted as the messenger invites us into the tomb to see where Jesus had lain.
But now comes the challenge.
Now comes the next step, and how we deal with that is up to each one of us.
We, each one of us are sent out.
We’re sent to tell those we love, those we care about, those we know and those we meet that Christ died on Friday, but that today God raised him from the dead, to break the bonds that have, up to this point, been a barrier between each of our lives and hearts and God’s love, whether we were aware of it or not.
And the question we face is how, and in what capacity, are we called by God, commissioned by the messenger, to spread this message?
How will we share this revelation to the corners of our lives, our communities, our world?
Not just because it’s Easter, but because this is what we are Called to do, always.