Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sermon for Easter Day 2010

Christ has risen

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed!

The tomb is empty.
The world has been turned upside down.
Christ is risen.
Happy, happy Easter Day!

Even our church looks different today.
We have left Lent—that is for sure and certain.
Now there are flowers and brass and silver.
We are decked out in festival white vestments.
Penelope Carscaddon’s powerful Stations of the Cross paintings—
Packed away until next Lent.

And now we feast our eyes upon flowers and fruit and all abundance,
beautifully painted by another artist in our congregation,
Ann Warren.

Welcome happy morning!
We come together this morning to celebrate resurrection—
hope and promise and possibilities,
new life in Christ.

Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb in the dark of the morning
and sees that the stone at the tomb’s entrance has been rolled away.
She is terrified and runs to get Peter
and then the other disciples arrive.
And they are completely baffled.
The disciples leave her and go back to their homes.
But Mary stays.
Mary Magdalene stays and weeps.

Was it not enough to lose her beloved friend Jesus—
has someone now come and stolen his body as well?
She weeps.
From fear, from anger, from exhaustion, from heartbreak,
she weeps.
Until she looks up and sees two angels.
(I guess that would make any of us stop crying!)

And then she turns around and there is Jesus.
only at first she thinks he is the gardener—
remember, the tomb is in a garden—
it’s why we celebrate Easter and other Sundays
with flowers in the church.
Mary sees a man and she doesn’t recognize him
until he speaks her name.
And then she knows.
She knows.

I want to tell you a legend about Mary Magdalene and Easter eggs.
And I also want to tell you a story that happened just a few years ago—
also about Easter eggs.

Here is the legend first:

After Jesus ascended into heaven,
Mary Magdalene traveled to see the Emperor of Rome.
Some say she wanted to give him a piece of her mind
about how poorly Pilate handled Jesus’ trial.
But regardless,
when she sees Tiberius Caesar,
Her first words to him are “Christ has risen.”
To which Caesar scoffs and responds,
Pointing to a white boiled egg on his breakfast table,
“Christ has no more risen than that egg is red!”
which of course, at that point,
the white egg immediately turned blood red.
Even today in the Orthodox church,
eggs for Easter are always dyed red.

If you look in the Weinhauer Chapel this morning
before you head over to lunch—
and I hope you will
because the chapel is glorious—
breathtakingly beautiful with flowers and plants.

You will also see there
a small icon of Mary Magdalene—
and as is the case in many of her icons--
Mary Magdalene is holding an egg.
Christ has risen!

Now for the other Easter egg story.

You know egg hunts are a lot of fun.
Some of us even remember pre-plastic Easter egg hunts—
When the eggs were all hard boiled and hand dyed.
But there’s nothing wrong with plastic eggs filled with chocolate!

We will have an Easter egg hunt here at St. John’s today after lunch.
It’s for children—
but you get to decide if you are still a child.
So don’t be shy!

The hiding and hunting and finding of eggs is fun!
Plain and simple fun!

This story was shared with me a number of years ago
about a little girl named Helen who was three years old
when this story happened.
Now after church,
(their church did not have a lunch and an egg hunt)
Helen went home with her mother and father
and friends and family gathered at their house for a wonderful lunch
After lunch,
The eggs were hidden and the children shrieked with delight
hunting for and finding the eggs.

Helen loved the hunt and the finding so much,
that she didn’t want to get immediately involved
in the opening of the eggs
or eating of the chocolate and other treats inside.

She insisted that they hide and hunt and find the eggs
over and over and over.
And the children loved this!
It was a truly glorious and joy-filled Easter day!

But about three days later,
at breakfast with her mother and father,
Helen asked a question.

“I don’t understand,” said Helen.
“What do Easter eggs have to do with Jesus?”
Now I guess her parents didn’t know the legend about Mary Magdalene,
so they were just silent.
They weren’t sure what to say.
They weren’t sure they knew
what Easter eggs had to do with Jesus.

But before they could even attempt an answer,
Helen said,
“I don’t even care
because I don’t even like Jesus any more.”

Now her mother and father really were speechless.
But Helen kept talking,
“I don’t like Jesus because he died.”

Helen’s mother and father still could not speak.
But Helen—are you getting the picture that Helen is a talkative child?!!!—
Helen kept on talking.

“But maybe Jesus can just live in my heart now—
sort of like my Grammie who died
and I don’t ever get to see her any more either.”

Maybe Jesus can just live in my heart now.

Even at age three,
Helen understood resurrection.
Those we love
living on in our hearts.
Those we love
Still very much a part of our lives.

Easter is also about us,
alive and held and treasured in God’s heart.
For ever and ever.

iWhen you receive the bread and wine of communion this Easter morning—
and you are all welcome to receive communion this morning--
When you receive the bread and wine this morning,
you will not hear the ordinary familiar words.

No body of Christ or bread of heaven.
No blood of Christ or cup of salvation.

But on this day, on this Easter morning.
today, when I place the bread in your hands I will say:
Christ has risen.

And you can say
The Lord is risen indeed
Or you can say ALLELUIA!
or you can say AMEN!
Or you can just smile!

And the same when you receive the chalice.

Christ has risen.
The Lord is risen indeed!
Welcome, Happy Morning!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

No comments: