Homily for Easter, 2011
Sunday, April 24th, 2011
Trinity Anglican Church, Bradford, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: John 20:1-18
“Woman, why are you weeping”
I have seen the Lord.
The Beloved Disciple simply looks inside the tomb, without entering, and sees the graveclothes and believes.
Peter has to enter the tomb, hold and touch the graveclothes.
Mary has to have an experience of the Risen Jesus; she needs to speak with him, she tries to lay hold of him, in order to believe.
In another week we shall hear about another disciple, Thomas, who insists on inspecting Jesus’ wounds.
Some must see, others must understand, some need to touch, others need to feel – but there is one common denominator in all of these stories, and in our Christian faith, the presence of the Risen Jesus our midst. With Easter, we experience a new reality. It is a reality that transforms minds, raises fallen spirits, and mends broken heart. It is an experience that turns the sinner from their sinfulness. It is a reality that changes the way men and women live.
Mary Magdalene weeps and then is filled with joy. The disciples who doubt are inspired by faith.
The resurrection of Jesus is not simply and event in time long ago, it is an event our lives. The Risen Jesus is not only encountered at the mouth of an empty tomb, in middle-eastern garden, on the Emmaus road, or behind the locked door of a house in the Galilee. To be sure, our mothers and fathers of old met him in these places, but down through the ages he has been met, and has met us, again and again. Through the dark valleys of our lives, he meets us. In sickness and in health, as children are born and loved ones die, he meets us. In the angst of all that troubles us, the Risen Jesus meets us.
Oh, we may not know him at first. Like the disciples of old, we may at first fail to see him in our midst. We may only detect an empty tomb, we may see his garments and the place where he once rested, we may mistake him for the gardener, or a strange on the road we may mistake him for another simple fellow-traveler. He may come to us at unexpected times, in unexpected way and in unexpected places. Perhaps, like Mary our eyes will be opened in time to see him, or perhaps like the disciples on the Emmaus road we will only recognize that we have met him after he has disappeared from our sight. In either case, he has been and ever shall be present; and when the reality of the Christ Event touches us, our hearts burn within us with great joy!
Days will come and pass when this seems not to be true. Time will come when we again feel alone. We shall all journey through valleys in which we feel lost and abandoned. There shall be moments when we shall feel lifeless and it seems as if God himself is lifeless, hanging on a tree. But when all seems lost, he confronts us again, he appears and stands before us and asks the age old question, “Why do you weep?”
There shall be no answer to the question for the answer is unimportant, it is simply enough that the question has been asked, for it means he has not left us. As we hear those words we know he is with us and like Mary, we exclaim, “Rabbi,” and like Thomas we proclaim, “My Lord and my God!”
When we hear his voice and his words of comfort once again, “Why do you weep,” it means God is not dead. It means that the end we thought was the end is not the end, but rather the beginning of something new. It means he is raised, and it means we, too, are raised.
Do you not know that all of you that have been baptized have been baptized into his death? Surely then, if Christ is raised from the dead, do we not also share in his resurrection?
Signs of the Resurrection are everywhere to be found: for the disciples it was an empty tomb and strewn grave clothes, a man mistaken as a gardener, or a stranger along the road. Who knows where we shall meet him, we only know that we shall, again and again as our spirits falter, as we again turn to sin, as we again lose hope. We shall meet him, whether he touches your mind, your heart or your spirit, wherever he takes your hand or wipes your tear, you shall see him risen and know that we share in that glorious resurrection from the dead.
C.2011, the Rev. Daniel F. Graves