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Saturday, 31 March 2018

April 1, 2018

The Resurrection of our Lord

The Resurrection of our Lord – Easter Sunday

April 1, 2018

John 20:1-18


I was at my desk in my office at church on a Saturday morning when the phone rang.  It was my mother calling.  She was upset.  She had heard my father fall on the basement stairs and found him unresponsive.  She called 911 and the paramedics came quickly.  They used the defibrillator seven times and finally restored a heartbeat. They took my Dad to the hospital.


I met my mother in the waiting room of the Emergency Department.  My Dad had a stable heartbeat but he was still unresponsive.  They brought him to intensive care.  He made no sign of consciousness that Saturday or on Sunday.


I began to think he was not going to make it. I began to grieve.  I thought about what I would miss.  We had a way of greeting each other.  I would say, “Hiya, Pa!”  He would say, “Hiya, Sonny!”  I thought I was never going to hear him say those words again.


I got up early Monday morning and made my way to my father’s room.  To my surprise he was sitting up in bed, looking a bit dazed.  I said, “Hiya, Pa.” and he said . . . “Hiya, Sonny!”  It was like part of me was reborn.  There was life.  There was hope.


We do a Christian Sexuality class for confirmation students every year and I begin the session with kids’ responses to the question, “What is love?”  One of the answers has to do with names.  A boy named Billy said, “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”   And more than safe, your name is magically sweet coming from their mouth.


My mother sometimes called me “Donnie” but more often called me, “Hun.” My wife is the ONLY one who can call me “Donald”.  My son usually calls me, “Chief”.  My grandsons are not very original.  They call me, “Grandpa”.  That’s a very special name indeed.


They called her Mary Magdalene.  Mary was a common name at that time so they identified her by the town she came from, Magdala. Mary Magdalene’s world had crumbled. She had been a follower of Jesus. It’s said that Jesus had freed her from seven demons, whatever that meant.  We can be sure that she believed that he loved her very much.


Mary had been at Golgotha when Jesus died.  She watched that awful death on the cross and she followed when they brought his body to the tomb.  She waited all day Saturday, the Sabbath day, so that she could go to the tomb and prepare his body for its eternal rest.


Sunday came and Mary went to the tomb.  She was confused and upset when she found it empty.  She went and told Simon Peter and another disciple, probably John.  She was standing outside the tomb crying when two men, whom she later believed to be angels, asked her why she was weeping.  She told them that the body of her Lord was missing. 


Then another man appeared he asked her why she wept.  She begged the man to let her know where the body was.  That’s when the man said, “Mary!”


“Mary!”  One word, the speaking of her name changed her life, changed her world.  She knew the voice.  Her name was safe in his mouth.  Her name was sweet in her mouth.  Jesus was alive and now so was she.


Jesus’ resurrection was not just good news for Mary, it’s good news for everyone.  His being raised from the dead gives us life, too.  We have the promise of forgiveness and the ability to let go of the past and begin life again.  Because of Jesus we know that death is not the end and we can and will have new life after this life. No matter how difficult our lives will be, we are assured of God’s love and that love gives us hope and strength and peace, that love of God we know through the risen Son gives us new life today.


I’ve had my current roommate for over 40 years.  It’s been working out quite well.  I could not wait to get rid of my previous roommate.  I was in seminary and the roommate I was assigned was from Texas.  Just about everything about him irritated me. 


But I do need to give him credit for one thing.  He introduced me to the music of David Allan Coe.  I was already a fan of Waylon and Willie, but David Allan Coe was an “outlaw” country guy with whom I was not familiar.  I still enjoy his music.


Coe’s first “hit” song was “You Never Even Call Me by My Name.”  It was about the fact that country DJ’s just would not recognize Coe or pay any attention to him.  It’s a fun song. If you get a chance, Google it.  One of the lines is, “The only time I know I’ll hear David Allan Coe is when Jesus has his final judgement day.”


I don’t want you to wait to hear Jesus call your name when he comes again. I’d like you to imagine hearing it today.  I’m not sure what your life is like right now. Maybe it’s good. Maybe you’re heartbroken like Mary.  Close your eyes.  Listen. Can you hear it?  Hear Jesus call your name. It’s safe in his mouth.  It’s sweet coming from his mouth. He’s speaking your with love.  It’s filled with forgiveness and hope and new life.


Open your eyes. You’re here at Peace Church and it’s Easter.  Christ is risen! On the first Easter Mary heard her name and knew that Jesus’ love for her would never end. She could wait to share the good news with others. 


We can do that, too!  AMEN