Easter, Easter Sunrise, John 20:1-18, Sermons

“…while it was still dark…”

(A word for Easter Sunrise       April 24, 2011        John 20:1-18)

…while it was still dark…

Mary left the place where she was staying and made her way to the garden. Someone had given her the directions to the new tomb, but she had to wait until the Sabbath ended to perform the task she took on for herself, to anoint the body of her hurriedly-buried teacher.

…while it was still dark…

she entered the garden, a place of beauty meant for stillness and remembering and a peace passing everyday understanding.

…while it was still dark…

she came, feeling the weight of the third day of loss, waking sharply and hoping the bad news isn’t true, having to remember, yet again, the terrible thing that happened. Although she hurried, her steps felt heavy. Her breath caught, full of the tears uncried, because there was so much to do, so much to arrange, so much to resist believing.

…while it was still dark…

she couldn’t believe it, really, and that’s why she came, to see for herself, to prove to herself that the events of Friday had really happened.

Oh, she was there! She was there, at the foot of the cross, and she saw it all, the nails and the blood and the dying.

The dying.

But…while it was still dark…

She came to the garden, just to be sure.

We know what she found, a shock greater than the blow of Jesus’ death.

She found the stone rolled away, and the tomb empty!

So…while it was still dark…

she ran to tell the others the bad news. Perhaps she woke them. They all ran back, Mary and Peter and the other disciple loved by Jesus. They ran back, and they all saw it, the empty tomb, and they did not understand.

Perhaps the hint of sunlight could be seen on the horizon by now, but Mary’s heart remained dark with sadness as the disciples left her.

She wept.

She looked again into the tomb, and then she saw angels. She must have wondered if grief had affected her eyes. These angels asked why she wept, and they gleamed with light in the dark tomb, but they told her nothing.

She turned then and saw a man, but she did not know him…her mind and heart were still dark with sorrow…even when he spoke, she did not know him.

But the sun appeared when he spoke her name.

…now that there is light…

“Mary,” he says, and she knows him

now that there is light…

“Teacher,” she answers

…now that there is light…

the forces of darkness have no authority

…now that there is light…

Death has no power

…now that there is light…

there is new life. 

This is the Good News, Easter morning and every morning.

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