The Resurrection of Our Lord; Year A (4/16/2017)

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. 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. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 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.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 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).

Do not be afraid. Go quickly and tell. You will see me.

St. Matthew’s Easter account — mysterious, complicated and detailed as it is — can also be boiled down to these three messages: do not be afraid; go quickly and tell; you will see me.

The two Marys arrive at the tomb devastated. After sky-high hopes on Palm Sunday they watch the crowd turn against Jesus as he is arrested, tortured and executed. They make their way to the tomb on Easter morning at dawn to pay their respects with broken hearts and devastated spirits.

What they encounter is radically different from what they expect. A great earthquake. The appearance of an angel. Fierce Roman guards so frightened they faint dead away. And then, even more shockingly: Jesus appears to them. It is enough that they, too, might have ended up like the guards — unconscious on the ground, overcome by the events that play out before them. Yet they don’t faint. Instead, they are transformed by these three messages.

Do not be afraid.

In St. Matthew’s Easter account there is much to make a person afraid. But the message of the angel to Mary and Mary is clear: have no fear. As frightening as the Romans guards seem; as powerful as the Roman Empire appears; even more powerful is the presence and promise of God. The resurrection proclaims that nothing — not even death itself — can separate us from the love of God that we know in Jesus Christ.

Go quickly and tell.

Mary and Mary become the first witnesses to the resurrection. This will be the calling of the early church: to proclaim to the world that Christ is risen. (“He is risen, indeed!”) The world may not be able to perceive it, but through the eyes of faith we find ourselves invited into a life of meaning, purpose, hope and joy. Reason enough to “go quickly” and to “tell.”

You will see me.

The final word is promise. As we go, as we tell, as we offer ourselves in service of the Gospel, we will see Christ. For the disciples it happens on a mountaintop in Galilee. For us it happens tomorrow. Every tomorrow. In our moments of faithfulness, in the face of those we serve, in the word that we proclaim, in the bread and wine we share, in the resurrection that is ours… we too will see Christ. This is the promise of Easter. On this promise, we are invite to stake our lives.

The message of the angel to Mary and Mary is God’s message to us today. Let us take comfort from this message. Let us carry it with us to the world. Let us trust and believe that along the way Christ will be made present to us (see St. Luke 24:13-35), if only we have the eyes to see.

Easter blessings to all of you. And if you happen to be in the Denver area, be sure to join us at Saint Peter: Maundy Thursday (7pm), Good Friday (8pm), Holy Saturday (9pm) and Easter Sunday (8:30 and 10:45 am).

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What were Mary and Mary feeling as they arrive at the tomb and these events play out?
  2. What happens to Mary and Mary as they obey the angel, and leave to find the others?
  3. How did the early church experienced the continued presence of Jesus in their lives?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How does my faith help me stay strong, through that which makes me afraid?
  2. In what ways is God calling me to proclaim Christ to those who may not know him?
  3. When have I seen Christ lately? When do I anticipate seeing Christ again?