Sermons

Jesus is Alive and A Woman of Courage

Themes: Easter John

Annette James

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You know there is a verse in the bible which says oh taste and see that the Lord is good – well chocolate tastes very good – for most people – I only like dark chocolate but that’s another story.

During this Lent I have discovered the work of Siegel Koder, he was a German priest, his paintings are distinctive for its strong colours and robust, chunky figures. Humour and tenderness – the closeness of God. I first discovered a painting of Jesus washing Peter’s feet and as part of our Maundy Thursday Service we reflected on this, but I was distracted because I had lit my candle and was busy with the service – not noticing that my candle had set light to some papers on the table. It took a while to clear up the paper afterwards, but it did nothing for my focus.

Today I have no papers near my candle - but do all be careful.

I am going to use some of Koder’s paintings as we reflect together on the events of Easter Morning.

Early on the first day of the week when it was still dark

Early on the first day of creation when it was still dark – God spoke - and said let there be light

Early on the first day of Easter 2021 when it was still dark – I arose maybe many of you did too to watch the sun rise alone…

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Early on the first day of the week when it was still dark Mary Magdalene came to the tomb

Early on the first day of the week when the darkness of the crucifixion lay heavy the light of the world shone dispelling all darkness… but Mary did not yet know this

Early on the first day of the week when it was still dark Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw, what did she see – she was shocked – filled with fear that Jesus body had been desecrated – or stolen. She was afraid to go into the tomb alone, I can understand that – she did not know what she would find - she went to tell the other disciples.

John and - Peter – ever impulsive arrives at the tomb and goes straight in – sees there is no body there and rushes straight off again to tell everyone else, and then we read that they went home!!

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Leaving Mary tired, emotional, overwhelmed by all that had happened in the last few days and now this….

It must have taken great courage for Mary to go into the empty tomb

Mary – Jesus had healed her from her torment and had given her peace – she was a constant companion and supporter of Jesus ministry and to my mind is/was one of the disciples.

Jesus was her rock – her Saviour – he had freed her from the terrors that had ruled her life – she loved and trusted him, she had watched him be spat at, abused, tortured and on the hill of calvary she had watched him die – her heart was broken and now she had come in an act of love to anoint his cold dead body.

But Jesus is not there – his body has gone and in the space are angels – who must have seemed to be heartless – “woman why are you weeping?”

Jesus is alive, but Mary does not realise this yet, she does not recognise Jesus until she hears him call her name “Mary”

Mary’s first instinct is to embrace Jesus – to give him a hug – oh how we can relate to Mary – after a year of being apart from those we love - how we have missed the positive

nurturing touch which a hug can bring during this lockdown – a simple thing, a hug – but Jesus is not yet ready for a hug – we can now meet with family and friends in our gardens or in an open space and it is instinctive to give each other a hug - but we are not yet ready for hugs

Jesus spoke Mary’s name and it was then she recognised him….

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How could Jesus know each of us by name when we are so many – the world is so big and complex and there are so many things happening – how could Jesus know each of us by name and how do we hear Jesus say our name?

It is not logical or reasonable and despite the evidence of her eyes and the reasoning of her Mind – Mary was confronted with Jesus living body – when Jesus called her name, “Mary”, she knew beyond doubt that Jesus was alive and she was filled with Joy.

As I write, I am very aware of creation. Sitting in the sunshine, listening to the birdsong, it is Saturday morning the air is warm and fresh around me the spring flowers are blooming and the trees bursting into bud, and blossom.

And I recognise afresh the gift of God for the whole of creation.

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And I recognise afresh the gift of the comforter, the Holy Spirit – not just for me, for individuals, but not just for individuals but for the whole body of Christ, for everyone who opens their heart and mind to God. Then, we see the work of the spirit in families, in communities, across the world and in individuals, and the spirit calls us to honour Jesus. How do we do this – by showing a different way – one that may not be logical or reasonable and sometimes against all the evidence of our eyes. I am learning that it takes courage to do this. People have used religion as a crutch, as an excuse, as a weapon and as a tool of oppression. That is not Jesus way, that is not Love, the Holy Spirit – never contradicts the work and words of Jesus, for the whole of creation.

Mary shows us the importance of humility – not to prove a point, not to gain praise or adulation for ourselves but to honour Jesus and to share the love of the Creator.

Mary the apostle to the apostles – commissioned by Jesus himself – who said to her, “Go and tell”.

Mary is an apostle to us too.

We learn from Mary how to respond to God’s love – to follow Jesus closely and learn from him. To love in life, to love in pain to love beyond death, to be faithful when we know Jesus presence - and when we don’t, when we feel isolated when we cannot sense Jesus presence and God seems far away. To trust even when it is not logical or reasonable.

Mary teaches us to have courage, to sit with the discomfort and pain of loss and isolation – to trust in the one who can liberate us from our ego and from all that binds us and holds us back from freely loving and taking the risk of loving creation and all that means for us and human kind. (you may want to think about what that means for you). To have courage.

Courage comes from the heart,

And we are always welcomed by God

The heart of all being

We bear witness to our faith as Mary did,

Knowing we are called, as Jesus was

To live lives of courage,

Love and reconciliation

In the ordinary and extraordinary

Moments of each day.

And today we celebrate that love and reconciliation with the whole of creation.

We celebrate because Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed Alleluia. Amen