|Easter 5, Year A||May 14, 2017||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 23, 2017||Easter 2, Year A||Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31|
|➤Easter Sunday, Year A||April 16, 2017||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, Year A||April 14, 2017||Good Friday, Year A||John 18:11, 9:28-30|
|Maundy Thursday, Year A||April 13, 2017||Maundy Thursday, Year A||John 13:1-7, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 9, 2017||Palm Sunday, Year A||Matthew 26:36-46|
|Lent 5||April 2, 2017||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A, Baptism||John 11:1-45|
|Lent 4||March 26, 2017||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41|
|Lent 3||March 19, 2017||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2||March 12, 2017||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121, John 3:1-17|
|Lent 1||March 5, 2017||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Ash Wednesday||March 1, 2017||Ash Wednesday, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany||February 19, 2017||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 12, 2017||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
Easter Sunday, Year A
Sermon Date:April 16, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10
Liturgy Calendar: Easter Sunday, Year A
"Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb"- Fra Angelico (1440-1442)
After Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid Jesus in his own new tomb and placed a stone in front of it, the disciples must have been devastated.
When he had been alive, Jesus had told the disciples that the kingdom of God was near and they had bought his story, and given up everything to follow him.
They had seen the kingdom of God with their own eyes!
Jesus had healed the sick, made the lame walk again, restored sight to the blind, and even called Lazarus out of a tomb. Jesus himself had even sent them out two by two to go around Galilee preaching about this kingdom of God.
And now Jesus lay dead in a tomb. A disappointment beyond measure!
The disciples must have felt completely hopeless. Nothing in the world had changed after all. Sickness, death, destruction, corruption in the Temple, and the Roman Empire still reigned. They had just wasted three years of their lives chasing after what had turned out to be nothing but a false dream.
And the disciples must have also been deeply disappointed in themselves.
After all, the disciples were total losers! They hadn’t even been able to support Jesus, who had been there for them through all sorts of storms, in their times of greatest need.
One of them had betrayed him. Three of them couldn’t stay awake with him as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter denied him, not once, but three times. All of them had fled. In the gospel according to Matthew, only the women had been at the scene of the crucifixion, looking on from a distance.
This whole disappointing story is still true today.
The death dealing dramas in the world—beheadings, bombings, shootings, every imaginable kind of violence, hundreds of thousands of people homeless and seeking safety in countries that don’t want them; this endless list is disheartening.
And us—we all have personal disappointments. The people we love suffer and die. Our own bodies betray us. Even when we try to hide the fact that we fail at things, we all do fail, come up short, and disappoint God and ourselves sooner or later.
Is the kingdom of God really near? Was it ever near? Are the promises of Jesus just a fantasy? A dream?
Today’s gospel is the good news we need.
This gospel is no dream or fantasy. This gospel is the story of hope.
God wants us to know—the kingdom of God is still near! And even when we let God down, God is still believes and hopes in each one of us!
Matthew’s story of the day of resurrection makes this hope tangible, something we can grasp in our hands and hold in our hearts when we find ourselves disillusioned with the world or disappointed in ourselves.
Matthew likes drama, and so he puts some flashy dramatic touches in his resurrection story. As Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are going to the tomb, the earth quakes under their feet. They can barely keep their balance. And then like a giant meteor, in a blast of light, an angel of the Lord descends from heaven, zaps the seal around the great stone in front of the tomb, rolls the stone away, and sits on it.
Now wouldn’t you be scared to death? The guards were. They fainted and might as well have been dead.
The women must have been afraid too—but what do angels always say?
Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!!!!!!
This bright and awe inspiring angel tells the Marys not to be afraid—
Because they are looking for Jesus in the wrong place.
They are looking for a dead man.
The angel tells them that Jesus is alive! God has raised him from the dead. Come see the place where he lay for yourselves, and then go quickly and tell the disciples that he is going ahead of you to Galilee, and there you will see him.
The two Marys are full of awe and great joy, and they run to tell the other disciples.
And on the way, they run straight into Jesus himself. When he greets them, they know his voice, and they fall at his feet in fear and in awe, and grasping his feet, they worship him.
And Jesus says the same thing that the angel says—
And Jesus also tells them to go tell—but he adds something that the angels didn’t say.
Go tell my brothers and sisters, Jesus said. Not my disciples—but my brothers and my sisters—my family.
Go tell my brothers and sisters to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.
So not only is Jesus alive, but he doesn’t hold any grudges about how the disciples had failed him before he died.
What words of hope and joy these must have been for the disciples. Jesus had referred to them not as failures and losers, but as brothers!
And going back to Galilee—I love this.
Galilee is where they all came from, where they had first experienced the nearness of the kingdom of God. They had traveled to Jerusalem with Jesus, had seen death do its worst, and believed that their hopes and dreams had been destroyed for good.
But now Jesus is alive. Death turns out to be only a dream.
And Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee, and there the disciples will see him.
This reminds me of the game Monopoly, but with a whole new twist.
A dreaded card in that game says “Go to Jail, go directly to Jail! Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”
This new card would read—“Go home, Go directly home! Pass Go! Collect more riches of hope than you could ever imagine!”
And that is the message of hope for us today.
When we go back home today, when we walk through our doors, back to where we came from, back to all that is familiar, back to the things that distress us, back to the things that disappoint us, Jesus will be there waiting for us.
Jesus has already beat us home!
And not only that, but he is waiting for us, as his very brothers and sisters, not his disappointing disciples.
We have already measured up, because God’s love for us is beyond measure.
But here’s the best part.
Right here, right now, we can lay down the fear of failure, the fear of death dealing disappointments, the fear of pain, suffering, the fear of what is ahead—we can leave all that behind, because along with the angels, Jesus tells us not to fear, because he is going ahead of us to make our way straight. We might even meet him along the way!
So we can leave here today traveling lightly, all our burdens left behind.
We can go leave here today rejoicing, and wide awake, on the lookout for our Lord and Savior, risen from the dead.
This good news is no dream!
For on this day the Lord has acted.
And Jesus is already waiting for us.
And the kingdom of God really is near.
So let us rejoice and be glad in this good news and go tell the brothers and sisters of Jesus throughout the whole wide earth.
Can I get an alleluia?
Can I get an amen?
Alleluia and Amen.