Easter Day 2020
The Lord is Risen, he is risen indeed. Amen
How many of us have gone to church, read our Bibles, said our prayers and believed we had cracked it, this business of being a Christian. Then out of the blue, wham, something happens that knocks us so hard to the ground that we really need Jesus and we need him now. Well the guards at the tomb were literally knocked to the ground, so shocked by an earthquake they appeared to be dead.
It might be the imposed isolation we are experiencing now, the death of a loved one and not being able to attend their funeral, or being made redundant at work. The elderly and vulnerable are all deelpy concerned. Will we die if we catch it? Will the NHS be able to cope? Yet sometimes when we are utterly desolate and look for Jesus, the tomb it is empty and we feel as empty and abandoned as did Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.
We met Mary Magdalene with the other Mary at the foot of the cross, where they witnessed together the end of all their hopes and dreams of freedom and the promise of a renewed Israel. It had all been so rushed, taking him down from the cross, washing his body, wrapping him in linen and laying him in the borrowed tomb. But now the Sabbath had ended and it was possible to finish the women’s work of laying Jesus to rest.
The two Marys, eager to do for him in death what Jewish Law demanded, came early to the tomb, as they arrived an earthquake shook the ground and an angel clothed in dazzeling white appeared. The angel rolled the stone away from the entrance of the tomb.
As a messenger sent from God, the angel commanded the women not to be afraid but to run and tell the diciples that Jesus had risen from the dead and that he was going ahead to Galilee. The women turned ‘hot foot’ toward Jerusalem. On the way they met with Jesus, who with the Angel, commanded them not to be afraid. But in awe and shock they too were knocked to the ground and at his feet they worshipped him.
Both the Angel and Jesus commanded them not to be afraid, it is then within that command we are given an injection of hope. Hope, as we deal with isolation and worries about our families and friends. That hope will flourish and grow if we keep in touch with each other, share our feelings and coping stratagies, but most of all if we pray with and for each other.
In Ancient Israel one woman was not a competent witness; in Jewish law three women were required to give witness in court. Yet these two Marys charged by Jesus brought the Good News of Easter to the disciples. Jesus had risen from the dead, it was not finished, the journey goes on.
Galilee had a special meaning for Matthew, and also for Isaiah, they viewed Galilee as the gateway to the rest of the world. This encourages and endorses for us the idea that the message of God, the Good News of the Gospel is for all the nations and not Israel alone. The Lord is Risen.
As we reflect on the love that Mary Magdalene, and the disciples had for their Lord and teacher, the message to us all is, that even in the most devastating of events, even as the Corona virus sweeps across the world, there is hope.
When we are at rock bottom and staring into an empty tomb all we need to do is turn around, face our fears head on, and remember we have the promise that we shall see Jesus too. Today we proclaim the great hope of the resurrection: nothing we face will defeat the great goodness of life itself. As our trials and sufferings receed, goodness as we never imagined will emerge.
As we clergy proclaim the message of the resurrection, we don’t ask that you believe it just because we read about it in our Bible. We encourage you look at your own life and test out the message. Look at your past sufferings. Look at the very worst thing that has ever happened to you. And to take in and remember the goodness that emerged when that suffering finished. Now that goodness doesn’t take away our suffering, it redeems our suffering. That goodness is bigger and more true to life even than the pain we go through. That goodness gives us hope. We see the hope of the resurrection in our past sufferings.
What would it be like if we could project that hope into the future? What if we could live out the sufferings of today with the hope that in time, goodness like we never imagined will emerge?
When life is tough and bad things happen, and happen they always will. Because being a Christian is not an inoculation against the frailties of human life. God is there because through Jesus’ death and resurrection the message for us all on Easter day and every day is of hope, love and joy. “The Lord is Risen” “He is risen indeed” Alleluyah.
My prayer for us all is to live as if we know it. Amen.
The Rev'd Mo Lunn, St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, 12/04/2020