Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen indeed Alleluia.
Fear and love,
these are the underlying emotions
running through this morning ,
the morning of the empty tomb,
the morning where God turned the world upside down
where fear makes the living dead
and love makes the dead living.
It is love that propels the Marys
to go to the tomb as soon as possible after the sabbath.
They loved Jesus,
Mary Magdalene has been with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry,
she has seen him teach large crowds and small groups of disciples,
cast out demons and heal the sick,
she has made his mission her mission
and now it is over
what she lived for is dead.
But love carries beyond death
and so she and the other Mary go to the tomb,
to be with the one they love,
to grieve his death,
their death, the uncertainty of the future.
And all of a sudden their world,
which has already been shaken
as an angel
a messenger of the Lord
descends from heaven and rolls the stone away from the tomb.
And Matthew tells us that for fear of the angel
the guards shook and became like dead men.
But the women,
they manage to stay on their feet,
Why do the guards become like dead men
and the women do not?
It all comes back to love and fear
without the love of God
fear is paralyzing,
with the love of God fear is manageable
because with the love of God comes hope.
“do not be afraid”
the angel greets them in standard angel fashion
knowing that heavenly appearances are always frightening
“I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for he has been raised as he said.”
He has been raised as he said,
is that another reason why the women are there at the tomb so early?
Did they go to the tomb
hoping against hope that what Jesus said was true?
That they would experience exactly what was happening in front of them?
Only hope born out of love could be this powerful,
for hope born out of love
looks at the reality of a situation
and still shows up at the tomb early in in the morning.
Hope born of love
means that even though your dreams are dead,
in a tomb, behind a stone, being guarded
and the earth shakes around you,
you remain standing or at least conscious.
The guards did not have this hope,
they did have relatively safe secure lives,
so when the earth quakes and the stone is rolled away
fear paralyzes them,
makes the living become like they are dead.
Fear has that power,
to take the life from the living,
but God’s love is stronger than fear,
stronger than death,
God’s love brings life out of death,
sets us free,
free from paralysis when the earth quakes,
free from the finality of death,
free because God loves us and wants us to have an abundant life.
And the thing about being set free
is that now we are able to go do things
we never thought possible,
freed from worry about ourselves
we are able to care for our neighbor as Jesus taught us,
we are free to share the news about the power of love
to empty tombs.
The angel shows the women the empty tomb,
tells them Jesus has been raised
and then gives them a command
“Go tell the disciples,
he has been raised from the dead
and will meet you in Galilee”
And Matthew tells us
that the women leave the tomb quickly
with fear and great joy.
paired with the joy of love fulfilled,
fear is manageable,
it is the fear of anticipation,
of going forth with a fantastic, unbelievable story to tell,
it is fear that knows that many will not believe what they have to say
but they are going to say it anyway,
it is fear softened by hope.
And then on the way,
Jesus meets them,
Greetings he says,
there is no question about who this is,
it is Jesus,
they grab hold of him and worship him.
Jesus repeats the message of the angel,
“Do not be afraid, go and tell the disciples I will meet them in Galilee”
There’s that caution again,
do not be afraid.
Jesus knows that even as we are set free
and joyfully go out from the empty tomb
we will need reassurance,
we will need the message repeated,
we will need times to worship at Jesus’ feet.
Which is why Jesus comes to us at the table,
in the bread and wine, his body and blood,
greeting us and strengthening us
before sending us back out into the world.
With fear and great joy
This morning is all about fear and love.
We all have tombs in our lives,
tombs that are sealed with a rock and surrounded by guards
and it takes the world shaking to open these tombs,
it is a fearful time,
but because we have the love of God
we remain standing,
and when we peek into the tomb
we find that Jesus has already emptied it.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen,
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia