Easter Sunrise, Mark 16:1-8, Sermons

And Very Early

(A word for Easter Sunrise–April 8, 2012–Mark 16:1-8)
They got up with a purpose that morning, with a place to go and a task to perform.
It had been done all wrong, you see.
There was no time.
They couldn’t anoint him and treat him with care; they didn’t have a chance to show their love and tend his body as he deserved.
The women had been showing that love all along the way, looking out for him, making sure the disciples got fed, probably paying the rent on the Upper Room.
They were the first Church Ladies, the first Women’s Fellowship, the first Altar Guild, the first Flower Committee.
They were ordinary people who loved Jesus.
They were faithful women who bravely followed him to the cross and saw the worst of it.
They were courageous women who made sure they knew the place where his body had been laid.
And very earlier in the morning they went out to the tomb to anoint his body with spices, prepared to show their love for this extraordinary man in the ritual acts that marked a respectful farewell.
They came to set things right.
And in their planning they worried about the heavy stone used to close the tomb.
They were practical, loving people.
It was just after sunrise, that time when everything seems possible and mysterious and new.
They looked ahead of them expecting a tomb sealed by a stone, just as we expect the sun glimmering on the horizon very early in the morning.
Instead they saw an open tomb. The stone had been rolled away! Instead they heard words they could hardly believe.
“He has been raised; he is not here.”
It was early, very early. Perhaps they wondered what they were hearing.
“Am I quite awake?”
“Maybe it’s the sun in my eyes.”
“I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“Let’s get out of here!!!”
“For terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
What did they fear?
Grave robbers?
Being accused themselves?
Roman soldiers?
                             Temple authorities?
Or did they fear that it was true?
Did they flee in awe of God’s power to overturn death?

Although Mark tells us the women ran away terrified on that very early morning, and told no one, we know they must have told someone, eventually.  If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here today.
Maybe Mark ends the gospel this way to shock us, the ones who read and hear the words. He takes us to the moment and the feelings, the very early morning when no one could possibly have imagined Jesus alive again. He shows us the moment when no one could possibly have imagined God’s victory over death.
It was too much to believe, that first Easter morning.
But the story does not end this way. So very early on this first day of the week, we will tell it again.
(To be follow with a reading of Acts 10:34-43.)

Easter, Easter Sunrise

At dawn

At dawn we met on a knoll at Skyline Farm, to welcome a new day and New Life. 
Roosters sang with us, and a fox made a cameo appearance, off toward the tree line.
Half a dozen little children also worshiped, and when a Deacon read the lesson from Acts, the littlest asked her grandfather, “They talkin’ ’bout Peter?”
“Yes,” he nodded.
“Peter Rabbit?”
The rest of us pondered the wonders of the gospel, of Mary who did not know him until he said her name, of Jesus who was not the gardener after all, of Christ who is risen indeed. Alleluia!
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.