Happy Easter to all–Jesus is truly risen! Alleluia! Thank you to those who were able to be with us at All Are One this past week for Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday services–from Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, to the solemnity of Good Friday to the joyousness of Holy Saturday with the Gloria and the Alleluias returning to the liturgy, it was very good to remember and celebrate our God’s over-the-top love for us in sending Jesus, our Brother.
I am sending my wish today for all of you who couldn’t be with us to get my in-person greetings last evening and who join us reading this electronic copy. Rejoice today and throughout the Easter Season over a God who has loved us so prodigally! It is wonderful to know, I think, that from the beginning, as we read last evening at the Vigil from the book of Genesis, our God looked upon us all and proclaimed that we are, “very good!”
Peace and Love–Alleluia!
My friends, we have experienced many readings tonight from what some might call, “salvation history,” but I would like to call it, the story of our God’s love for creation, culminating in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, our brother.
Tonight, because our service is already longer, I wanted to simply lift up a line or two from the readings for us to hold on our hearts:
- In the creation story we hear that God looked on all of creation and said that it was very good. For that reason; I chose not to have us read the story of Moses fleeing the Egyptians and God drowning them in the Red Sea. It seems that as the prophets become more involved in the story of the Israelite people, God becomes a much more loving figure and certainly the God of Jesus was.
- In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear, “come to the water, all who are thirsty.”
- And in the reading from Ezekiel, we hear, “You will be my people and I will be your God.”
- We see the compassion of God expressed in the gospel selection from Matthew tonight as twice we hear, first from angels and then from Jesus, “Don’t be afraid.”
- The epistle from Paul to the Romans speaks in a somewhat cloaked fashion of sin and the truth about being Jesus’ followers—simply that it will mean we have to leave sinful ways behind, striving to be our best selves. But that will come soon enough—now is the time for joy in the fact that Jesus is still with us.
Because we won’t be meeting on Easter Sunday, I wanted to add a few thoughts that are included in tomorrow’s readings that are very significant in understanding this most glorious day.
The Easter Sunday morning’s gospel comes from John 20:1-9. I think it is important not to stop after verse 9 but to continue on to verse 18 as it includes the beautiful encounter between Mary of Magdala and Jesus in the garden. The reading shouldn’t stop after verse 9 as the story simply isn’t complete at that point. The reading for the Easter Vigil stops short too and that is why I added verses 8-10 to that reading.
It is significant that these faithful women who stood by the cross to the very end would be the first to see Jesus in his risen state and only an all-male hierarchy would set up the readings in this way, completely discounting the women!
Another point in this gospel that is most significant especially for those who may find it hard to believe in the resurrection and might say, “The body was simply stolen will find an answer in the way John describes the scene at the tomb. [Simon Peter] observed “the linen wrappings lying on the ground and saw the piece of cloth that had covered Jesus’ head lying not with the wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.” Exegetes tell us that if one’s intent was to steal a body, you wouldn’t hardly unwrap it first and certainly not take the time to fold up a piece of cloth covering the head!
John also gives us another interesting tidbit in his account of the resurrection—when Mary of Magdala first encounters Jesus, now risen, in the garden—she doesn’t recognize him! We might ask—how can this be? Again, exegetes tell us that one apparently doesn’t appear the same in resurrected form as they would, if they were merely sleep and awakened.
The same phenomenon seems to be true in Luke’s account of Jesus joining the disciples the next day on the way to Emmaus. Just as Mary didn’t recognize Jesus until he did something familiar—saying her name, the disciples on the road didn’t know him either until he likewise did something familiar—when he broke bread with them.
So, my friends, some thoughts to carry on our hearts as we continue now with the blessing of the water and our baptismal promises…..