John 20:1-18: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
We began 8 days ago, gathered in the Great Hall, waving Palm branches and waiting for the Hallelujahs to begin. Mere minutes later we were in the depths of the pain of the Passion Gospel.
On Monday, we contemplated the intimacy of a women washing Jesus feet with her tears and expensive ointment. Tuesday brought the visiting Greeks who wished to see Jesus and Jesus’ chilling words about what was truly about to happen. Wednesday we tried to wrap our minds around Judas and the betrayal of Jesus. We were confronted by our own complicity. Thursday brought more intimacy as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and then instituted the symbolic action that is for us, the center of worship each week – the Holy Eucharist.
Words cannot describe the depths of despair and sadness as we heard the sharp crack of a hammer driving nails through the flesh of our beloved on Good Friday. For two days we journeyed with that emptiness.
Early this morning, shivering with cold and excitement, we gathered along Askin Street. Our faith informed us that when we went to bed last night, Jesus was dead in the tomb. But as the dawn cracked the eastern sky, we listened in waves as the whole world shouted “HE IS ALIVE!!!”
We started last Sunday with a suggestion from one of the Brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist that there are five gospels. Mark, Matthew, Luke, John and You. Through the week we have heard from the first four. Now it is time to hear from the Gospel of You. As I suggested last Sunday, faith is not a spectator sport. Through Holy Week we have time and time been called to step into the drama, to ask ourselves what this means to our faith, how new insights into ancient stories might breathe new life into the way we understand.
But the story does not end with today’s happiness. Jesus has defeated death! Jesus has called us to have life and have it more abundantly. That isn’t an empty promise. That isn’t something to be thought about next week, next year, next decade, whenever we get around to it. This is something that shapes our today and tomorrow, just as surely as it shaped our yesterday.
Now is the time to share the Gospel of You! To find new ways to express what God means to you, in your heart, your life, and your daily thoughts. It’s time to put the new version of the Gospel of You into action.
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery