Easter Worship- April 19

Gospel Lesson: John 20:19-31

An Easter Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter

On that first day, they were gathered together with the doors locked, closed off from the world. And they were afraid. My, how familiar that sounds. As we sit in our homes, closed off from the world, wracked with fear. And in that room, apart from the world, when all seemed lost…Jesus came to them speaking peace.And in our rooms, in our homes, apart from the world, when all seems lost…Jesus comes to us, speaking peace even now.

On the evening of that first day, the disciples had heard the words of Mary Magdalene, “I have seen the Lord!” but they did not believe. They could not believe. They had not seen Jesus with their own eyes. They had not heard Jesus with their own ears. They had not experienced Jesus calling them by name.  And they were afraid. Afraid to hope, afraid to dare, afraid to believe. And in that moment, behind closed doors, when all the world seemed lost, when everything loomed large and dark, Jesus came speaking peace. And they saw with their own eyes, and they heard with their own ears, the voice of the one who called them by name. This same Jesus, who had called them from boats and families and life to live new life. This same Jesus, who had been arrested, crucified, and buried. This same Jesus now stood before them speaking peace, and giving comfort, and being Love.

But Thomas was not with them. Now, poor Thomas has gotten a bad reputation throughout history. Doubting Thomas, the one who wouldn’t believe. But let’s be honest, was Thomas really any different from any of the other disciples? Mary didn’t believe until Jesus called her by name. The other 10 didn’t believe Mary until Jesus came to them in the locked room. Thomas was simply seeking to know the resurrection in a physical way…just like everyone else did.

And what about us? We are resurrection people, even though we live behind closed doors right now. We are Easter people, even when it doesn’t feel like it…and boy, it sure doesn’t feel like it. We are Easter people, but it feels like we have been shoved back in the tomb. We are Easter people, but snow and sickness and fear have kept us huddled inside. We are Easter people, and whether we feel it or now, Jesus is here speaking peace, infusing us with Holy Spirit. And like Thomas, we experience this bodily. All around us, Jesus is speaking resurrection into being. We see it, as trees bud and daffodils bloom. We hear it, as birds hasten the dawn and squirrels chatter at the feeders.  We know it in our minds and hearts and bodies as waves crash upon the shore, as neighbors tend to one another, as we are called by name, Beloved. We are Easter people, and the promise of the resurrection is present all around us. Let us experience this Easter season with new eyes, with new ears, with new hope. Let us tend to the very reality of resurrection in our midst. Let us live as resurrection people, that all the world might be infused with new life…and bear witness to Jesus’ among us, speaking peace…even in this world. Amen

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

Light a candle, if you have one. Take a deep breath. Remember though we gather separately today, we are gathered together, with all the saints, in prayer and praise this day. God is with us. We are not alone. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!

A reading from John 20:1-18

            Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So, she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So, Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

An Easter Reflection

            In our dis-belief… in the broken cracks of cynicism and skepticism- we come, expecting to mourn the death of our Lord- and here we find him risen. We see- and cannot believe. To touch him with our hands- to kiss him with our mouths- would not be enough. Yet, here he is. Our Lord, wo died- our Lord, who was laid in the tomb is alive! He has risen- just as he said. He has conquered the powers of sin and death and stands before us now. Our hears are filled with joy- our eyes are filled with tears- Here is Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. And he calls to you- and to me. He welcomes us into his out-stretched arms. He longs to draw us close to himself, to love us, and call us beloved. Forever and ever. Amen.