Monday, April 09, 2012

This Week’s Focus: Case Closed 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1-18

Dear Friends,

For the Romans it was a useful lesson to discourage other trouble makers. For the Sanhedrin it was just punishment for a blaspheming pretender. For his disciples it was disillusionment and despair. For his mother it was indescribable pain watching her boy destroyed. It wasn’t supposed to end this way. And of course it didn’t.

He is risen. Love has triumphed over evil. The message has not been muzzled. And the messenger walks among us. It did not all end on the cross. It was only the beginning. He is with us in worship this Easter morning. We are risen with Jesus. And we share his victory over death, through a lifetime of Christian witness and beyond. This is no poetic illusion. It is as real as life gets. Anyone who has returned from a life of darkness will tell you what a blessing it is to live in the light of The Resurrection… to rejoice in it share it.

In “Peter Pan” there is a very effective scene where Tinker Bell is expiring and can only be revived if the children in the audience believe in fairies. The risen Christ is no Tinker Bell. He is and was God before all time. He will reign beyond all time. That reality is not dependent on our belief. We, however, are another matter altogether. In Christ we are saved. Reject him and we are on our own. But even then our case is not closed. God calls us to him constantly, to live in the Resurrection … to choose eternal life over death.

God made us, knows us and loves us in our imperfection. The frailty of our faith is no secret to him. Few of us are living saints. None of us is sinless. The diaries of Mother Theresa reveal her dark night of the soul; surrounded by suffering, questioning God’s love and very existence. Yet she continued on, driven by a will to believe, struggling toward the light. On Easter morning the light of the risen Christ beckons brighter than ever. This is a time to banish our doubts, to burnish our beliefs, to reconnect with baptismal grace and recommit to live in and for Jesus.

Easter is the time we say “yes” to Jesus, to live in our hopes not our fears. No matter how many times we fall, we are a resurrection people. No matter what our condition, Jesus wants us for his own. It was not in the power of the Romans or the Sanhedrin to close the case on Jesus. It is not in the power of the world, the flesh or the devil to close the case on any of us. That power is in our own hands. We can rise with Jesus or choose to sit out the Resurrection. Let’s throw open our tombs. Choose life. Choose love. Choose joy. Choose Christ. Alleluia! He is risen.

God love you!

Love divine,
in raising Christ to new life
you opened 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.

Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 

He, Qi. Easter Morning, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved April 3, 2012].

No comments: