May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be acceptable in
your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
A Sunday morning about 32 AD
we are with Mary and Mary Magdalene and Salome.
As early as they could they had gone and bought spices
and now as the sun is beginning to rise
our intention is to go to the Tomb where
Jesus body was placed.
Remember he was the one we thought would liberate Israel
and you will remember the shocking events of the last days
last Friday when in less than 12 hours
in the dark of night Jesus was
captured and condemned to death
and then crucified
.Joseph had taken his body and placed it in a tomb
Had we known we would have been more prepared
but we didn't you see because we had thought then it would never happen
that He would die.
And so today on this first day of the week
we are going
to do what we couldn't do
then - wrap the body of our dear friend in spices
we want in some way to sweeten the smell of his death.
We have a concern
the stone disc sealing the tomb
weighs around two tons
two tons of rock jammed down into a slotted channel.
And we wonder who will move the stone for us,
As we move through the mist of the morning
the stone is a symbol is it not
of the awful separation that death has brought
that death always brings
the wall, the barrier of unknowing
the end of human relationships
that great wall separating for ever those who live and those who have died
that cold unmoving stone
standing between us and those we love
that symbol of defeat
that wall that marks the futility of love
and so it is no wonder that as we walk on our mind
is the question - who will roll the stone away for us
and a deeper cry of
who will ever remove that stone
who will ever put an end to death -
Some of the women are ahead of us
they would have reached the tomb and we have heard them cry out
And then have joined us back on the path
looking somewhat anxious if not frightened
the hectic pace of Friday is back
Mary Magdalene is saying something about the body being stolen
the other women are talking about
a man -telling them Jesus had risen
and they are crying and they are running
back along the path
and back to where we have been in hiding
terrified - talking gibberish.
And then they are back in the room
where the others are
pulling them from sleep
telling them things that seem incredible
hard to know just what the women did see and hear.
Peter and James and John and Andrew are all there
John is sitting up and asking questions.
Peter has rolled back over turning his face away from the women
lost in his own hurt; lost in the memories of last Thursday night when
he had cursed and swore and denied knowing Jesus
and had looked up to see Jesus looking at him.
I think it's Salome - Salome has gone over
she has put her hand on Peter's shoulder
"Peter the man at the tomb - all white
told us to give this message to the disciples
and Peter he mentioned your name
he said tell the disciples and Peter.
Peter He wanted to let you know
He is alive."
There is a cry from Peter - I think almost of a broken heart
almost as if in that moment Peter is feeling
discovering something of the love
of his master and his own weakness.
John is pulling him to his feet
they have run out the door.
heading themselves for the tomb.
Some of us aren't coping with this
you see this doesn't happen.
Besides Mary Magdalene isn't sure and she was there
with the other woman
she has decided to go back to the tomb
You and I have to make a journey
some seven miles to Emmaus
and suddenly free of the room and the others the grief of the last days begins to
overwhelm us as we walk
The one thing is sure we saw Him die and when He died the dream of the Kingdom
died with Him.
Then there is another traveler on our road of grief
A man has come up a long side us
our pain must be obvious because he has asked why
and we tell him about
and the silly rumour.
Suddenly I want to open my heart out to this traveler
and the grief of the last days is pouring
the fear of the journey of the last months
the hopes we had for the Kingdom
and the power we would have;
and my anger and my pain.
all the garbage flooding out
all the anger
all the frustration we have had with God and
why we had prayed and Jesus had still died
and how he had prayed and he had still died.
The awful curse of death
and just how could Jesus speak of the love of God
when God would allow this to happen to such a good person
didn't He know that we loved Him.
And then it is all out - all the anger of a thousand things that have gone wrong
powerlessness of poverty
powerlessness when death comes
the unfairness of life.
A hundred betrayals and rejections.
Then in the silence the man is speaking - somehow His words
finding a place in our hearts
speaking of a God we know little of here in 32 AD
speaking of a God who indeed cries when His people hurt
a God who
is like a mother hen and would gather her chicks to her;
a God who is not only father but has a mother’s heart
a God who more resembles a lamb than a lion
a God who is a servant rather than a ruler
a God who dies rather than one of His creation perish
a God who loves the world so much
that he would give His only Son
to save them
a God who would suffer with His people
a God who holds the world of the dead so that even if we were to go down into that
yet we would live for he is there.
As he is talking something is happening
down in the place where moments before
there was anger
deep down where an accumulation of a lifetimes pain
had built up
in the recess of the unconscious - now empty of its anger
the anger of the generations
empty of its grief
now His words - the words of this stranger on the way
His pictures of God - suddenly pictures of Jesus
as we had known Him.
And with the pictures something else - some spirit almost touching and healing.
And then it's dark
and we would have this man stay with us -
this strange man on our way who knows our heart
and then we are sitting at table
And I would have asked you to ask the blessing
But He has taken the bread
and I can tell that suddenly it has broken upon you
as it has me - that this is Jesus.
And then as suddenly he is gone
and we hurry back to Jerusalem
we will run most of the seven miles
and I know that in your life
something has changed as in mine
Then we are breaking through the door into the upper room
Its almost as if a party has broken out
Andrew is shouting to us -
"The Lord has risen indeed - and He has seen Peter!"
And we have our story to tell and how suddenly when He broke the bread we
recognised Him. Someone has cried out
and then He is there with us in the room
Real, no ghost.
Outside the night;
a Kingdom about to be born
a Kingdom of God
a people for whom the stone has been rolled away
a people of the light of the risen Lord;
And now as we go with Him into the night
and out towards Bethany
no longer the shadows frightening as they had been
only a week ago
now no longer a cloud over our minds
no longer dreams of power
no longer fear of Roman soldiers
for he is with us again.
And He has told us something else
in the days ahead,
He has said, we will be clothed with
a kind of power we could never dream of -
power from on high -
the power of the God who is love.
And suddenly it has broken into my mind
a picture of those I have loved - those I love who have died,
in His presence
still in His love
still held and would be always -
and you and I.
He has done it.
And Sunday will never be the same again.
Now unto God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be all honour and
glory, world without end. Amen.
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