|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
|First Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 10, 2019||First Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 4:1-13|
|Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019||March 6, 2019||Ash Wednesday||Isaiah 58:1-12|
|Last Epiphany, March 3, 2019 – Rev. Mark Jefferson||March 3, 2019||Last Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 24, 2019||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year C||Genesis 45:3-11, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C – “Be a Blessing”||February 17, 2019||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year C 2019||I Corinthians 15:12-20, Luke 6:17-26|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 10, 2019||Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Luke 5:1-11|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||February 3, 2019||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30|
Sermon Date:April 1, 2018
Scripture: John 20:1-18
Liturgy Calendar: Easter, Year B
"Hold Me Not” – Antonio Correggio (1534)
How many of you garden?
Those of you who do know that time can stand still in a garden, as you turn the soil, plant seeds, tend your plantings, water, and enjoy watching what you’ve planted grow and then mature, ready to harvest.
Many people find God close by when they garden. My mother in law had a sampler hanging in her house, which now hangs in our house, that says,
“The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of a bird for mirth, one is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than any place else on earth.”
The story of humankind opens in a garden, the most beautiful place imaginable, the Garden of Eden, the home of Adam and Eve.
But because of their desire to have infinite knowledge and to become like God, God ended up sending Adam and Eve out of the garden.
The natural world would no longer be a garden that provided for their every need, but instead, Adam and Eve would have to toil to grow their foods out in the fields, and the earth would now bring forth thorns and thistles.
The relationship between God and human beings and human beings and the rest of God’s creation had been badly damaged, and that death dealing damage has continued throughout history.
But this death dealing damage is not the end of the story.
John opens his gospel with these immortal words, “In the beginning was God, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Jesus, and without Jesus not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Jesus is life and the life is the light of all people.”
What came into being at the beginning of time through the Word, Jesus, was life and light, and death and darkness cannot overcome it.
So no wonder, according to John’s gospel, that the first resurrection appearance of Jesus takes place in a garden at dawn, just as the light of the sun is overcoming the darkness.
In this garden, all that went wrong in the first garden has been redeemed—
because Jesus has been resurrected and brought out of death into life.
Mary Magdalene, alone in the garden, is the first person to see our resurrected Lord, and she mistakes him for the gardener.
But in a way, she’s exactly right. Jesus is the gardener.
Jesus has taken all that went wrong in the garden of Eden and has made it right again. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the relationship between God and human beings has been restored and can grow again.
The relationship between human beings and the earth itself has been healed through Jesus, buried in the earth for three days, and then being brought out by God into resurrection life and light.
So why can’t Jesus stay with us, now that he’s been resurrected?
We’d all like to keep Jesus around, to do the gardening on this earth with us. We need Jesus to help us to be the ones who garden and grow the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control) in our lives and to share that fruit with everyone around us, so that justice and peace can become a reality in our world.
And we’d like Jesus to be around to help us heal the messes we’ve made on this earth, to make the water we’ve polluted fresh again, to refill the water table, to get the poisons out of the soil, to bring back the mighty forests, to make the earth habitable again not only for us, but for all of God’s creatures, whose habitats we have compromised—we need our Lord to help us to resurrect the earth.
But Jesus says to Mary, “Do not touch me.”
Have you ever wished to turn back the clock? To a time that has passed, a time that seems so wonderful as you think back to that time?
Maybe that’s how Mary felt. If she clung to Jesus, all the goodness she had known before the crucifixion would come flooding back and all would be right again.
But Jesus knew that we can never return to what is past. The past, good and bad, is over and done.
But God has reset God’s time.
The miracle of the resurrection is that time itself has started over.
The new time has begun!
Just as it was in the beginning, when the word was with God, the Word will be with God again. Jesus is ascending to the Father.
Jesus says to Mary,
“Go and tell my brothers that “I am ascending to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.”
The past is done and forgiven. Jesus refers to the disciples who denied and deserted him as his brothers. And Jesus makes clear that God is not only his Father, but theirs as well.
In other words, in this new time that has begun with Jesus’ death and resurrection, the family relationship that was broken in the Garden of Eden has now been restored and healed.
We know all over again that we are God’s forgiven and beloved children,
And the earth, that has been groaning in labor pains, has been set free from decay and can now give birth to a new age of life and growth.
When Jesus appears to the rest of the disciples that evening he says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And he breathes on them and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to be with us, to give us peace, and not only peace, but the strength and courage to love God and to be God’s gardeners on this earth and in this world, and to do all of that with joy, because God has resurrected Jesus from the dead.
And Jesus, as in the beginning, is with God, and God is continually bringing new life and light into all of creation, through Jesus, the Word.
Time has begun all over again!
All things have been reborn!
With the help of the Holy Spirit, new life is springing up in us, and all over the earth. We and the earth are once again dwelling in God’s garden, in God’s new time, which is as old as the beginning of time.
So let us rejoice and grow, with the help of the Holy Spirit, into the gardeners for this earth that God wants us to be.
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!