Gospel Reading: John 20:1-18
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.
Alleluia Christ is Risen! the lord is risen indeed alleluia
I want to welcome our visitors and guests today. I’m so glad you’ve joined us for this happy celebration. And I am so glad that Lent is over!
For many in our church family Lent has been grueling for a lot of reasons. We called Lent a “pilgrimage” this season. That was our theme, and indeed it was a long journey from the cross to the resurrection for us.
So I have really been looking forward to today. Because it is on this day that all my hopes are founded. It is on this day that new life is offered to all of us once more. It is on this day that we also have a chance, to see beyond our limited vision, to the Resurrected Lord who is calling our names.
Today in our Gospel, Mary is weeping at the tomb. She has arrived with the disciples, seen the stone rolled away and is sure someone broke into the grave in the middle of the night. After all, what else could have happened?
She is afraid of what she might see, yet she looks inside. And the evidence is clear. Jesus is not there; someone has taken his body. Mary is so sure of this that the presence of two angels does nothing to calm her. She doesn’t even recognize her savior when she turns around and finds him in front of her. Mary is blinded by her weeping, by her limited sight. She can’t conceive of any other ending than the most logical one, no other truth but what she can take in and figure out by her own sight. It seems obvious to her, that the enemies of Jesus, having killed him, have now removed him, taking away the disciples’ final solace of caring for his body.
So Mary does not see Jesus right in front of her. She can imagine no other outcome than this death. She cannot extend her vision into the possibility that a miracle happens today. She can’t imagine that things could change which seem so impossible to change, death being one of them. Finality. Bitterness. Grief. The triumph of evil. The cruel use of power.
Mary can imagine no other way than that evil wins, that hurt is the final answer. That loss and death have no future for rebirth.
And yet, there is another way. Because we have a hope. We have new life. We have a Resurrected Lord who is calling our names.
But even with her limited vision, what Mary teaches us today is that she continues to look for Jesus, even when she cannot imagine the possibility of new life. Even when she has him right in front of her and STILL cannot see, she STILL does not stop seeking him.
“Why are you weeping? Jesus asks. Who are you looking for?”
She tells him that he is the one she so desperately wants to find.
And then he calls her name. And her eyes are opened, and everything changes. He has been there right in front of her—new life right in front of her—all this time.
How is that really different for us? Jesus is right in front of us all the time, new life just waiting for us to open our eyes and see. And yet so often our vision becomes limited. So often we can see no other truth but what we can take in and figure out by our own sight. And so often our sight leaves no room for the impossible, the miracle, the new life rising from the dead.
It is easy for all of us to get lost in our own season of weeping, whatever that is for us. It is so easy for us to think that evil wins, that bitterness has dug in permanent roots, or that the reality we know is the best we can hope for. And to each of us come these seasons . . .
But today, the resurrection calls us to imagine the impossible. Today we are asked to extend our vision, to search for Jesus, the one we still so desperately want to find, even if we are not sure what the end of the story is. Even if it is hard for us to imagine miracles, new life—resurrection.
Yet if we seek him, he will call to us. He will call us by name across our own blindness. He calls to us; we respond to him. We see the resurrected Lord.
It is a wonderful thing that Mary responds when she hears her name, and it is that exchange—from her name to his name—that relationship that restores her sight.
Just ordinary sight itself (our own conclusions for ourselves or our lives) will always be limited. We will never be able to imagine how the miraculous could break through in our own hearts and souls simply by relying on our limited vision.
It is that response, it is that faithful seeking, hearing and responding, that calling back and forth between ourselves and our savior, that opens us, not just to see Him but to see our entire lives differently.
SO today we have the chance, once more to live our own lives with resurrection eyes. We have a chance to hold onto that impossible hope, that we are called by name into eternal life. We have a chance to see the grace and beauty Jesus works out in our own small histories of death and resurrection in this life. We have a chance to see that there is an abundance open to us, if the one we are seeking is Jesus.
We see clearly because Jesus clears our vision, and we realize that when we seek him, new life is always possible for us.
So today death does not have the final answer. Nor bitterness. Nor grief. Today evil and cruelty do not have the final power. Nor loss or limitation. Because today upon this resurrection all our hopes are founded.
On this day new life is offered to us once more. And on this day we also have a chance to see and respond to the Resurrected Lord who is calling our names. So once more we respond
Alleluia Christ is Risen!
“The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!”