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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter C March 27, 2016

Quotes That Make Me Think

Are you God's friend and lover?
rejoice in this glorious feast of feasts!

Are you God's servant, knowing God's wishes?
be glad with your Master, share his rejoicing!
Are you worn down with the labor of fasting?
now is your payday!

Have you been working since early morning?
you will be paid fair and square.
Have you been here since the third hour?
you can be thankful, you will be pleased.
If you came at the sixth hour,
come up without fear, you will lose nothing.
Did you linger till the ninth hour?
come forward without hesitation.
Even if you came at the eleventh hour?
have no fear; it is not too late.

God is a generous employer,
treating the last to come as he treats the first arrival.
God gives to the one and gives to the other:
honours the deed and praises the intention.

Join, then, all of you, join in our Master's rejoicing.
You who were the first to come, you who came after,
come now and collect your wages.
Rich and poor, sing and dance together.
You that are hard on yourselves, you that are easy,
celebrate this day.
You that have fasted and you that have not,
make merry today.

 The meal is ready: come and enjoy it.
The calf is a fat one: you will not go away hungry.
There's hospitality for all, and to spare. No more
apologizing for your poverty:
the kingdom belongs to us all.
No more bewailing your failings:
forgiveness has come from the grave.
No more fears of your dying:
the death of our Savior has freed us from fear.
Death played the Master: but he has mastered death

Isaiah knew this would happen, and he cried:
"Death was angered when it met you in the pit."
It was angered, for it was defeated.
It was angered, for it was mocked.
It was angered, for it was abolished.
It was angered, for it was overthrown.
It was angered, for it was bound in chains.

Death swallowed a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth and encountered heaven.
It took what is seen and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting?
O Grave, where is your victory?
Christ is risen and you are overthrown.

Christ is risen and evil has fallen.
Christ is risen and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen and life reigns.
Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the tomb.

Christ is risen indeed from the dead,
the first of all who had fallen asleep.

Glory and power to him for ever and ever!

St. Chrysostom

The death of Jesus is for us nothing if we have not died with him; the resurrection of our Lord is for us nothing if we have not been raised with him.

Emil Brunner

"The doctrine is clear. To the children of God, lost Christ is their Christ when all is done."

The Weeping Mary at the Sepulchre, Samuel Rutherford, 1640.

General Resources for Sunday's Lessons


This is the day, Lord God, that you have made!  Raising Christ from the dead, and raising us with Christ, you have fashioned for yourself a new people, washed in the flood of baptism, sealed with gift of the Spirit, invited to the banquet of the Lamb!  In the beauty of this Easter morning, set our minds on the new life to which you have called us; place on our lips the words of witness for which you have anointed us; and ready our hearts to celebrate the festival, with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts on John 20:1-18
Oremus Online NRSV Gospel Text

Resources for Sunday's Gospel
We begin with  Mary discovering that the body is not there and reporting it to the disciples.  There is the famous disciple race.  The beloved disciple loves Jesus more and so he arrives at the tomb first before Peter; this is the intent of the story teller at least.  When he arrives he sees the burial clothes and he believes. He sees, he experiences, the resurrection and he believes.

Mary Magdalene then experiences the risen Jesus.  She has been searching for him; she sees him but does not immediately know him.  In fact she does not know him until her name is called.  Raymond Brown points out a number of reasons for this in John, vol 2, 1008ff.  Playing out the reality of Jesus' own words in John 10.3:  "The sheep hear his voice as he calls by name those that belong to him."  "I know my sheep and my sheep know me."  Her response is to announce to the disciples that she has "seen the Lord."

Two different experiences of the risen Christ from two loving followers are what we have to preach on this Easter.  They give us a sense that the risen Lord is known in many ways and experienced in many ways.  While true belief will come with the Holy Spirit, we are given here in John's resurrection account the beginning of the new creation story. 

The Victory has been won on the cross. The chasm that separated the earth and the heaven is no breached.  The disciples begin to experience a new order and a new creation. They begin to understand the things which have been told them. 

In these resurrection accounts we have the beginning of faith which comes from experiencing the risen Lord.  Their faith will grow even as Jesus continues to make his journey to the father. He remarks that we are not to cling to tightly to these experiences for the unity if fulfilled in the ascension which is soon to come.  Jesus is even now, as he stands before Mary, making his way to the Father.  Then, and only then, will the comforter and Holy Spirit be unleashed in the world.  Then, and only then, will the disciples come to a fullness of belief.

John's Gospel tells us clearly that resurrection is not simply a bodily, this world, experience but it is a resurrection into unity with God.  Only when Jesus is resurrected and unified will the new creation truly spring forth.  So now...on Easter we read John's Gospel we prepare and raise our heads for the coming of the Holy Spirit and the salvation of creation which is even now upon us.

"The first ones ever, oh, ever to know of the rising of Jesus, his glory to be, were Mary, Joanna, and Magdalene, and blessed are they are they who see.  Oh blessed are they who see the Lord, oh, blessed are they who see." (Hymnal 1982, 673)

Some Thoughts on Luke 24:1-12

What becomes clear in comparing the two options for preaching on Easter Sunday is that Luke's version and intent is somewhat different than John's.  However, what they have in common is worth a brief note.

In all the accounts (different from the other Hellenistic accounts of the day) Jesus is VERY present. He is not a ghost. He is not an apparition. Jesus is very real and very present. (Luke Timothy Johnson, Luke, 389)  The second detail is that the resurrection accounts do something.  They make real the covenant community of the disciples.  They are about to be sent; they are about to become apostles through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The disciple community is formed.  One might even say is birthed and bound together by the experience of this very real present Jesus. (390)

In Luke's Gospel we have an empty tomb account; which is the reading appointed.  However, this is always in context with the Road to Emmaeus, the appearance to the disciples, the ascension and Luke's nod to the many other resurrection accounts. 

In our Gospel lesson Jesus is very real and very present.  He is clear that we are to remain attentive to the work that is about to happen in Jerusalem (note he has changed Mark's "Galilee").  We are clear that the death and resurrection of the prophet king has now fulfilled the prophecies.  The prophetic tale of suffering and death has come true.  The whole of the scriptural witness (in that time the Old Testament - and specifically the Torah) is towards this moment of a new covenant and a new thing.  It is now the time of an apostolic age; wherein the first followers are sent out to do the work that Jesus has given them to do. 

Most of all we see in this moment a community being formed and being empowered to make their own prophetic witness.  (391) 

The last very important motif which Luke' carefully crafts as he tells the story of the resurrection is the crowd.  Jesus' resurrection involves many people.  Many people will experience his resurrection.  They are to tell many people.  It is important in Luke to remember the story of the prophet king Jesus, and how all that he said came true, and how he suffered, died, and was resurrected.  More importantly though is that "remembering" is for the sole purpose of telling. 

This is the evangelist's resurrection account.  God and tell...go and tell....go and tell.

Some Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

The passage chosen for Easter from Corinthians does and interesting thing by combining two pieces of a whole section.  In the much larger piece of chapter 15 Paul is speaking to the church at Corinth about the reality that the key belief in the resurrection of the dead for the the saints is to be found in the sacred story of Jesus' own resurrection. 

Not unlike many non church goers, Paul faced a wide community of belief in a marginal kind of afterlife.  He is sure that there is more to life than what we experience here on this earth and he truly believed that for the Christian who believed there would be the inheritance of eternal life with God.  We share with Jesus the nature of life in this world and so we will share with Jesus in his resurrection.

Jesus is the first fruits of the holy community of saints who will be raised.  He then makes his case that humanity is doomed to death if left to their own devices.  Only Christ and Christ's resurrection will bring resurrected life to those who believe.  Christ is, even now, bringing about the ultimate victory of death and will (as promised in John's Gospel) draw all things to himself.  In the end death and all shall be conquered.

This passage so linked places before the reader and the preacher the witness of the first Christian community: 

A)  Those who follow Jesus and believe in his resurrection will be united with God and the saints in light.
B)  Jesus is the only one who can triumph over the permanence of death itself; only the new Adam brings deliverance.
C)  Not only is  a way into full life with God made possible and the kingdoms of heaven and earth forever linked; but this work of Christ's resurrection will be the death of death.
D)  Finally, this is part of the ultimate embrace of God for his creation.  What has begun in God will end in God for God is the Alpha and the Omega.

For the reader in Corinth and for the reader in the 21st century, we are given a vision of hope that all that we experience in this world is not all that it seems; and that God in fact intends so much more.  For us who remain along the pilgrim way we are given an opportunity to see that even now all things are being drawn towards him who loves us and desires to gather us beneath his wings.

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