NOTES FOR A MORE COHERENT SERMON – Easter 2013

11:00 AM., Sunday, March 31, 2013
St. Andrew’s Old Catholic Church
Meeting Room, 138 Pears Ave. (Toronto)

FIRST LESSON

Colossians 3: 1 – 4

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

GOSPEL OF THE DAY:
John 20: 1 – 10

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.”

Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

SERMON PROPER BEGINS

Today we celebrate the impossible made real, the rising of Jesus Christ from the grave. All our fears and hopes have proven themselves to be grounded in the limits of human expectation when the boundaries of existence and non existence have proven porous.

Hope has been returned to the world, the hope that was offered to us at the time of creation and offered again and again in the words of the prophets and through the examples of the saints. But this is a new hope, one brought forward by someone who is not a stranger but our brother.

The Jesus who came out of the tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem was not a stranger, nor should have his resurrection been a surprise—he told those around him that he would never leave them alone. Our elder brother may have played tricks on us over the years, but he was always trustworthy.

Jesus promised us that death was not the end and he was proven right. He has risen. Jesus has risen today, just as he did 2,000 years ago. Death only has the dominion over our spirits that we permit it to hold.

Christ’s return from the dead doesn’t mean that there all of the problems in the world disappear. Even though God offered us a paradise on earth, we have all too often chosen paths that lead us astray from accepting God’s grace and gifts. Christ’s return from the dead means that all things are again made possible. We can learn again to share the gifts of creation with all; we can find a new relationship with the divine; we can renew and restore our relationships with one other—all things are made new because Jesus is once again with us, because Jesus has risen.

When we think of Jesus’ return from the dead we use a word with many meanings and connotations—he has risen. Bread and cakes rise; we rise from our bed to start our day; the sun rises…when we think of Jesus’ rising we are also thinking of all the other ways something rising affects our lives. We have running through our minds the memories of every time we savoured a fresh loaf of bread or watched a sunrise over a lake shore or resented having to get out of bed to start a long day at a job we don’t like. Our words carry memories as well as their specific meaning and our entire life experience comes together when we consider what it means to have Jesus risen and walking once again with us. It is not only the words of scripture that brings meaning and understanding to the news of Christ’s return. We each bring something unique to the story of Jesus’ resurrection that no one else can.

The gospel reading we hear today is only one story of Jesus’ resurrection. Mary Magdalene’s experience of the empty tomb was different than Peter’s. Other gospels provide different descriptions. Each of Jesus’ friends and family, each of Jesus’ apostles, had something different to tell of Jesus’ resurrection. When we add our own experiences to what we learn of the resurrection we too find that we have a unique gospel to share with the world.

Poem for Easter (Anonymous):

Do not Stand
at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds
that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the
morning hush
I am the soft uplifting rush
of quiet birds incircling flight.
I am the soft star that
shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there.
I did not die.

+++++++++++++++++

Christ has died. Christ has risen.
Alleluia.

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