The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Sermon by the Rev. Lisa Smith Fry
How many times have we searched for Jesus in the place where we last experienced him? And he wasn’t there.
I deliberately picked this – the first—written account of the women at the tomb. I had a choice between this one, and John’s account.
But I think this reading from Mark is a very honest account. The original book of Mark ended right where we ended today, with the amazement and terror of the women. Some don’t like this ending because it leaves the listener in uncertainty. Of course it does.
Poor Mary. And Mary. And Salome. When they approached the tomb, they had pushed their grief away to wrestle with the problem of who would help them move the heavy, large couple hundred pound stone in front of the tomb entrance.
And doesn’t that sometimes happen to us? Oh—we’re not in the desert, mourning the death of the greatest being of all time—but aren’t we sometimes traveling down a well-worn road in our minds- fretting about the problems in our lives that feel like large heavy stones blocking us?
We can’t go around them, and we can’t go through them. We aren’t strong enough to push them out of the way. Seems like everything is insurmountable. Been there?
But then—as Mary, Mary and Salome approached the tomb, the stone—that immovable force—has already been moved.
It would probably be as astonishing as finding that a problem confounding us, or an obstacle to our futures blocking us is suddenly resolved—and suddenly we are encountering people who encourage us, and open up doors for us, and tell us that we just need to go toward what we want. I think we might be a little bit– -nervous—and amazed.
As Mary and Mary and Salome peaked into the tomb, — because this day definitely wasn’t going as they had planned–they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting there. And it wasn’t Jesus. They turned to run away—but the person told them not to be afraid. Jesus was raised, and he’d gone ahead. They looked at him in disbelief.
The women were sure that the death of their leader meant the end of everything they had envisioned for the future, when they began following this Jesus of Nazareth.
And while they were mourning their expectations of what should have been, what could have happened, they discovered that there might be a new future opening up.
How many times have we searched for Jesus in the place we expected him?
We call ourselves a resurrection people. And we are.
But resurrection means change: changing what was dead to what is suddenly alive. Resurrection means new life. New life means change.
Change?? How many Episcopalians does it take to change a lightbulb?? None. We don’t like change.
We like the known. We like things happening in predictable ways. We like to encounter Jesus where we’ve always encountered him before: in safe places– like in churches, and while walking the woods, and with the people we know and love.
If we search for Jesus only in the place where we last experienced him—we’re missing the fact that he’s gone ahead—to meet us in new places, in new people –in new ways.
And you know—even if we only wanted to meet Jesus in the same expected ways it won’t work, because we’re not the same. We’re always living in a new moment in time, and we’re not the same people we were even a week ago.
That’s the thing about new life. Resurrection.
We can never go back—the stone has been rolled away!
Obstacles are being removed.
But we can go forward—to Galilee.
Jesus is raised.
And he’s waiting for us there.
Waiting in a place of new promise.
Jesus is showing us that that Love is way ahead of us, all around us, in front and behind us. And with the Love—there are new possibilities.
Because we are a resurrection people.
Love is alive.
And I predict we’re going to find Jesus in some new and unexpected placed.
Prepare to be amazed. Amen.