The Resurrection of Our Lord; Year A (4/20/2014)
Lessons:Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43 St. John 20:1-18 or St. Matthew 28:1-10
Prayer of the Day: O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, so that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
28.1 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
St. Matthew 28:1-10, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America).
”He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you.”
Every Easter Sunday I find myself wondering what it was like for the women to make their way to the tomb of Jesus early on that first Easter morning. St. Matthew remembers that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are there, not so much to prepare the body for burial. They have already been present as Joseph of Arimathea does this on Friday evening, and they watch him roll a great stone to the door of the tomb. (27:60) They no doubt have heard that Pilate commissioned a guard of soldiers to seal the stone against the tomb and prevent anyone from removing Jesus’ body. (27:65-66) They don’t hope to see the body of Jesus. They simply want to be near his resting place, and honor him. It isn’t hard to imagine that this trip is made in deep grief and great sadness. They have lost a teacher and a dear friend, and (to the degree that they understand him) the reason for hope that has come to sustain them.
Yet in an extraordinary series of events an earthquake rocks the ground, and an angel of the Lord (who looks a lot like Jesus did when he was transfigured on the mountain top: 17:1-2) descends from heaven, rolls back the stone and sits on it. It is such a frightening scene that those hardened, unflappable guards are shaken and become like dead men. The angel’s simple message: “Do not be afraid… he has been raised… he is going ahead of you.”
It is fear and great joy that send them from the tomb, and as they run from that place of death they come upon Jesus himself who speaks words of peace and comfort, and promises to go ahead of them.
This promise will sustain them for the rest of their lives, and will find a place at the heart of the early church’s proclamation. The first century is a dangerous time to be a Christian, and early church leaders will not be immune to this danger (in fact: many of them will die for their faith). Yet they will take great hope from his promise to go ahead of them, in this life and beyond.
This hope is ours as well. Christian faith doesn’t promise us immunity from the brokenness and pain of this life. It does promise us, though, that Jesus goes ahead of us, and meets us along the way of life’s journey. The resurrected one graces our lives with resurrection power, and enables us to live with hope, regardless the circumstances of our daily lives.
During Holy Week we celebrate the very heart of our faith. In the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus, God offers us the gifts of new life and deep hope. Join us this week for worship during the Triduum (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), and during our Sunday morning celebration of the resurrection. In word and sacrament, we will celebrate the truth that Jesus continues to live among us, and to go ahead of us, giving us reason for hope.
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- Why does the message of the angel, and of Jesus himself, give Mary and Mary hope?
- How do the others receive it?
- What does it mean for the early church to have this promise from Jesus?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- When did the meaning of resurrection first start to be significant for me?
- Who was instrumental in sharing this with me?
- How is the promise of resurrection a word of hope for me?