Easter Sermon

by jpserrano on April 5, 2015 · 0 comments

You can hear this sermon here.


Christ is Risen!

Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, our resurrected Lord. Amen.


This last week, I heard a scene unfold between my wife and 4-year-old son that was straight out of the Cosby Show.


I heard her say, 


“Benny, you can’t just walk in my bedroom when the door is closed.  

First you knock.  

Then I say ‘who is it?’ 

Then you say ‘who it is.’ 

Then I tell you if you can come in—Got it? 

So, go back outside the door and let’s try that again,.”


I hear the door close then.  (Knock knock knock)


Jessica said: “Who is it?”

Benny responded: “Who it is.”


Sometimes kids just don’t get it.  I’d like to think that as adults, with all our wisdom and life experience and education, that we are immune to that, but there are just too many times we as adults don’t get it either. 


I’ve had this long tradition on Good Friday after the liturgy of going out with other Christians and having a beer—‘cause that’s what you do when a friend dies—you have a drink. Usually we talk theology and Bible and the meaning of Holy Week.  This year I posted on Facebook that this was my tradition and a pastor friend of mine, on Good Friday, asked, “Who died?”


As adults we can miss it too.

In our Gospel story this morning, Mary Magdalene, at first, misses what’s going on as well. 


Mary Didn’t Get It

In her love for Jesus she gets up on the first day of the week, in darkness, and goes to Jesus’ tomb.


But, this is no ordinary first day. In Greek the word that is used for “first day” in this verse is the same word that is used in Genesis in the creation story.  So this is the first day of God’s new creation.  Of God’s new work in the world.  Unbeknownst to Mary, this first day is the beginning of new era.


But Mary doesn’t understand that yet, and like so many of us whom go to the place where our loved one has died, or where they are buried, or where their ashes are interned—she is going to just be with Jesus’ and mourn her loss. When she got there, though, something was wrong.  


As she approached the tomb, the stone was rolled away.  Not even looking inside, she runs and tells Peter what she thinks happened.  “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”


Grief can do all kinds of things to a person and have varying effects on the body:  crying and sighing, headaches, loss of appetite, aches, loss of memory. It can make you not even think straight.


The tomb was empty, and the first thing Mary thinks is that someone had taken Jesus.  


Mary had forgotten Jesus’ words.  When he said:


“Destroy this temple (meaning his body) and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).


“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25).


“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).


Mary doesn’t understand what was going on, and she goes for help. 


Peter went in the tomb first. Then the other disciple.  The story tells us that the other disciple “saw and believed.”  But it wasn’t that he believed in the resurrection; he saw the empty tomb and believed Mary’s story.  He saw and believed that Jesus was taken.


So he and Peter returned to their homes having believed that Jesus’ body was stolen—They didn’t get it either.


But, Mary doesn’t leave. She stays at the tomb.   She waits . . . and mourns . . . and waits some more.  


Mary Waits

The Prophet Isaiah says:


Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

    they shall walk and not faint.


Friends, we’re called to be like Mary.

We’re called to wait in the darkness. 

We’re called to wait when all seems lost.

We’re called to wait at death’s door, in the garden, at the tomb.


We’re called to wait in faith.

But unlike Mary, we know the end of the story.

The hardest thing to do is to wait for the unknown to happen. In September of 2013, Jess and I had to wait for biopsy results to come in to find out if she had breast cancer.  Those were the longest two days of our lives.  Filled with worry and fear.


We didn’t know what the test results would be, but we trusted the God of new life to be present in that situation. In that period, we found that faith was not how tight we were holding on to God, but instead realizing that God was holding on to us. There will always be times where our faith seems weak or thin.  Waiting for a job. Waiting for the move. Waiting for test results.  Waiting for death to come. Waiting for the unknown to be known.


Mary shows us what it means to be a faithful disciple.  She lingered by the tomb, not knowing what she was looking for.  She was unsure of the future, but she waited.


Jesus Comes

She was confused and in mourning, and then the resurrected Jesus calls to her by name.




We see Jesus’ words from earlier in the Gospel come to life.  “The Shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”


Jesus leads Mary out from her waiting, 

He leads her out of her grief

He leads her out of her uncertainty

Jesus leads her from his own death to her new life.


Mary is called by name, and she experiences the resurrection of Christ first hand.  


The Resurrection.

Jesus calls us by name daily.  

In our grief, confusion, worry, and fear, Jesus is offering us new life.

The resurrection of Jesus is not only an event that happened in the past, but it provides a glimpse, a taste of what is already here, and what will come.


The resurrection is a now and a not yet event.  


Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we know that all believers will be resurrected after they die into eternal life.  But the resurrection is so much more than waiting for our eternal birthday.



Here and Now

The resurrection is here; the resurrection is now.  We can experience new life through Jesus.  Romans reminds us that in baptism “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.” 



Easter shows us that Evil doesn’t win.  


Death is not the end. Jesus himself conquered death.  And he promises that in him we will conquer death as well.  We will be raised to new life and he offers us new life now.  Joy can be found in the middle of the worry and pain and fear. Joy can be found in Jesus.


Christ is Risen!



May you wait for Jesus like Mary. 

May God renew your strength so you don’t grow weary.

And may you hear the Shepherd calling your name, giving you new life.


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