Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018  

John 20:1-18

Think of the early morning. When the sky is still dark but the day has begun. If you step outside you hear that the birds awake and singing.

The day may have been just such a morning, when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus. The day was early, still dark. Mary was mourning the death of a man she followed, a man she deeply cared about, a man she loved. Mary was alone in her grief… when she realized something was wrong! The stone that had been put in place in the front of the tomb, sealing the tomb, had been removed! Mary ran to tell Peter and John, two of the disciples. Peter and John ran to the tomb, finding it empty. The two men saw and they believed Jesus had risen from the dead.
And so they went home.

Mary Magdalene did not go home. Mary Magdalene “stood weeping outside the tomb” (John 20:11).

As she wept, (as she wept!) Mary bent over to look in the tomb. She saw two angels. The angels asked why she was weeping.
“They have taken away my Lord! I do not know where they have taken him!” (John 20:13).
She was weeping, she sounded desperate. Where was Jesus??? What had they done with Jesus?
Then she turned around. Someone was standing there. She thought he was the gardener. The person asked her “Why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” (John 20:15).
Mary does not recognize Jesus! She tells the man “If you took the man buried here, where did you put him? Tell me where you put him! I will take him…”

Then Jesus called Mary Magdalene by name. Jesus said “Mary” (John 20:16).

That’s all it took.
Mary turned.
Mary spoke.
“Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher) (John 20:16).

Rabbouni! The word in Hebrew can mean Teacher. It can mean My Master. It can mean Great Teacher. It can mean My Great Teacher. Whatever it meant, the conversation feels intimate to us. The conversation feels personal. The conversation feels loving.

Jesus was alive. Mary loved Jesus. Jesus loved Mary. The resurrected Jesus called Mary Magdalene by name, and she knew him.

***

My Grandma Richmond died when I was a senior in college.
I had four grandmas when I was growing up. My maternal Grandma “Ray” died when I was 10. My Grandpa Ray remarried a few months later. His second wife died a few years after they married. Years later he married again. Arlene. She died, too.
My Grandma Richmond was the only grandma I had who I simply knew as “Grandma.”

When I was in my first year of college I spent my J-term living with my Grandma and Grandpa Richmond. I worked at their church, shadowing their pastors. The pastors described my Grandma as a religiously devout woman. When they drove by her house in the evening they could see her inside, sitting next to her sewing machine under a single standing lamp, reading her bible.
I thought my Grandma was great because she made fresh whipped cream for me every day the whole month I lived with them, simply because she knew how much I loved whipped cream.

Legend has it that, before my Grandma died she was lying in her hospital bed when, all of a sudden she sat up in bed, stretched her arms out in front of her (as if she was reaching for someone) and said “I’m coming!” Then she died.

I believe, in that moment, God called my Grandma by name. Did God take the time to say “Meta Martha Bertha Recknagel Richmond”? I don’t know. Perhaps God simply said “Meta.”

Meta loved God. God loved Meta. God called Meta by name and she knew God.

This is the promise we celebrate today. We celebrate the promise of new life.

God gifts us with life on this good earth as God’s much loved children. And God gifts us with the promise of everlasting life. Life lived with God. Forever.

When each of us who have been baptized was baptized, we were named. At my baptism my name was spoken: “Joanne Sue Richmond, child of God.”
Your name was spoken when you were baptized.
We were promised new birth, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life.

Those words were a resurrection promise.

Jesus calls us by name each and every day. Jesus loves us. Always and forever. Always and forever.

Thanks be to God! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Amen.