by Katherine Tuttle
Sermon on Easter Day Year A
Text: John 20:1-18
Theme: Jesus gives us a voice
Subject: The Voice and Breath of Jesus
Gospel: By Jesus overcoming death and the grave, he gives us a new voice and a new identity as a children of God.
We are an Easter People
On a first reading the account of Mary at the Tomb- it may seem completely incredulous that Mary would not recognize Jesus. But is this not the experience of grief? That it buries us so deep, that we can't see anything else....
We are introduced to Mary Magdalene, in her deepest moment of despair.
In the stillness of the early morning, Mary comes the garden where her Lord was buried. She brings no one with her. Since body has already been anointed by Joseph and Nicodemus, she has no other task set before except to express her love and grief.
But, her grieving quickly turns to alarm with the absence of the body. After a flurry of events, people racing towards to open tomb and back again, she is once again left alone in the garden, now panic stricken as well as heartbroken.
She could have left with Peter and the other disciple, but that would not have answered her persistent need to know where her Lord has been taken and how she will be able to find him.
As she peers into the empty tomb, not even the sighting of two angels can shake her from her mission to find where her Lord has gone.
It is in this broken state that Jesus comes to her, using the same phrase he spoke as he called the first disciples: “Whom are you looking for?”
The God who brought life to the first human being by breathing onto simple earth is the same God who comes to Ezekiel in a whisper after the rattling of earthquakes, fires and storms, and who breathes new life into dry bones giving them shape and purpose once more. This is the God who meets a broken woman in the a garden as the Word made flesh, and with a single word, “Mary”, breaths new life and understanding into a fractured existence. It is here, in her moment of deep need, that with a single breath, Mary is given the way to abundant life.
When Jesus speaks her name, he gives her a new identity, a new voice and authority as a child of God called to proclaim what she has witnessed.
With the command not to cling to him, Jesus turns Mary toward the world. Mary is called not to hold onto to the Jesus that she knew, but instead is sent to proclaim that he has risen and that he is “Ascending to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God.' Her mission to find Jesus has not changed, but now she will look for him, not in a tomb, but out in the world as she proclaims the good news.
Like Mary, We are children of God- the God of the Resurrection, who through Jesus are given a new idenity and a new voice. With this new voice, Jesus turns us out toward the world, to proclaim that: he has conquered death and the grave- the promise of Christ are trustworthy, and that his God is our God.
Jesus, who came deeply in the flesh, is now deeply in the world. When we encounter the world, we encounter Jesus and continue to be made new. He is with us in the meal we share, and in the waters of our baptism, where we daily die to sin and rise again in new life. He is in each carefully folded lily made by caring hands, he is with those still waiting to see past their despair. Each unexpected gasp joy and painful breathe is imbued with the good news of the resurrection.
As we begin this Easter season, we are reminded by Mary's story that we are an Easter people. Through Jesus' ascension, we have been delivered from the powers of death and been brought into fuller relationship with God- whose breath blows into our places of despair and gives us the power to proclaim that death does not have the last word. Jesus' ascension does not mean that he has left us. But shows that he is a living presence in our midst, who continues to call our names...and breath new life into a broken world.