Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Sunrise Sermon

April 5, 2015
Mark 16:1-8
Mark’s Gospel is usually my favorite gospel. I like the way that Mark paints the picture clearly, without too much fuss, and leaves the reader to draw a lot of their own connections.
That being said, with this the last chapter of Mark, I wish the author had been a bit more wordy.
Darkness has again fallen on the followers of Jesus. They have suffered through the betrayal and trial and death of Jesus only to gather together for the least celebratory Sabbath they had ever experienced. They grieved, they mourned, and they cried, wailed and feared. What will happen to us now? Who will we follow? How can we go on living?
At some point during the observation of Sabbath three women gathered together and formed a plan, a plan to honor their Lord as he should have been honored.
It is immediately after the Sabbath, which would be Saturday night, that these three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out to the market place to buy spices for the anointing of Christ’s body. Things had happened in such a rush that the customs had not been followed. Jesus’ body had not be properly cared for and they wanted to remedy that as soon as possible.
As the dawn breaks they approach the tomb wondering who they will get to roll away the stone. With all of their prepping and planning they had not thought about this particular need. Perhaps they could find someone willing nearby. Perhaps the three of them working together could shift its weight. Perhaps one of them should go back to get one or two of the men to help.
As they looked up from their discussion they see that the stone has been moved already. They say nothing to each other but instead rush into the open tomb, no doubt to make sure that the body of their lord had not been disturbed. But what they saw their disturbed them quite a bit!
Inside they saw a young man, according to Mark, dressed in white. They are more than a little upset; in fact they are alarmed or shocked. Of course, you would be too, wouldn’t you?
This young man tells them not to fear, that Christ has risen and will meet his brothers in Galilee. He tells them to spread the good news to Peter and the disciples.
And filled with terror and amazement they flee from the tomb. They flee from the tomb and tell no one what they have seen.
This is how the oldest copies of Mark that we have end, with frightened women running away. They were scared that someone might have taken Christ’s body, perhaps even the young man they met at the tomb. But perhaps they were even more afraid that no one had taken him, that he had indeed risen. What would that mean?
And it makes me wonder, how often do we turn away now from the possibility of resurrection? How often do I let my fear keep me silent?
When a loved one is facing the darkness of depression, sure that the path they are on leads only to destruction, do we run in fear, or do we dare speak words of resurrection?
When we hear the words cancer, terminal, untreatable, do we turn in fear, or do we dare to speak words of resurrection?
When we hear of vicious murders of 147 people at Kenyan University do we shake our heads in disbelief, or do we dare speak words of resurrection?
When we learn about the hundreds of women and girls who are victims of sex trafficking on own very own Highway 20 and Highway 72 do we sign at the unfairness, or do we dare to speak words of resurrection?
When we look into the dark places, do we pull our purses tight and lock our doors, or do we dare to speak words of resurrection?
The king of glory came in the form of a man, and all the dark places, all of the Hades all of our personal hells were lighted up! There is no darkness we can know that Jesus has not already known. Death had no gate strong enough to keep him in and darkness was powerless at the coming of the light!
Darkness is powerless over the light of Christ! Speak words of resurrection into the darkest of nights, knowing that you cannot be anywhere Christ is not waiting on you to arrive.
Do not turn in fear from the challenges of resurrection friends; speak the words of truth, the words of resurrection into every dark place, knowing that his light wins, every time.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

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