Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Sermon: The Race

I'm like the widow searching for the lost coin, except I'm married and I'm searching for a lost ipod microphone.  Which is a shame b/c I added quite a bit of good stuff to the sermon this week that is now lost in the ether.  Pray that I find that microphone so you can get back to listening with rapt attention to my compelling and captivating sermons.  :)  

Hebrews 12: 1-3
John 20: 1-18

There is so much going on here.  Mary comes to the tomb early in the morning.  Not content to just let him be.  And there she finds the stone rolled to the side and the tomb empty.  She runs back to tell the disciples.

And then you have this curious race between Peter and John.  John tells us that he won the race, of course, but then stops at the opening to the tomb.  Peter plunges right in and sees it empty. 

John spends valuable narrative space telling us about the placement of the burial cloths, and then John comes on in to the tomb, and in so doing he seems to cross over into an understanding as to what has happened. 

I like this idea of racing to the tomb.  They hear the word from Mary as a starting gun.  They race to the tomb, not quite sure what to believe or make of the news.  Then they get there, and they’re not quite sure what to do.  Do we go in the tomb or not, should we take these burial cloths as some sort of sign, or not.  But John writes that it is there that he believes.  He races to the tomb, and then he believes. 

How often is our faith life like this race.  We are running along with a friend in the faith of Jesus, and we sense that we are “ahead of” or “behind” the rest in our progress toward the destination. 

And then, even those who are ahead draw up short and observe the goal.  Sometimes it is those who seemed to be behind the whole time who plunge right into salvation.  But, sometimes pulling up short and taking a moment to survey the scene is what is required for us to come to recognize what has happened in our lives. 

John describes the Beloved Disciple seeing the arrangement of the grave clothes, and then piecing together that this neat arrangement of clothing could not possibly be left by intruders and body-snatchers.  Instead, something more mysterious has happened here, and he believes. 

Raymond Brown, S.J., what characterizes this passage is a "prolonged recognition" of the risen Christ by Mary.

But then, a lesson perhaps from John to the church.  What do Peter and John do after they’ve gone inside the tomb and believed what Jesus had said?  They go home! 

They don’t rush out and spread the word to the other disciples.  They just go home!  What do we make of this?  Isn’t it true that we sometimes approach the aim of faith, then we have the astounding experience that leaves us with sure and certain belief only to then GO HOME and get back to life as usual?  John tells us that’s exactly what the disciples do.  They go back and start fishing again.  This man whom we loved and followed for three years has been crucified and now has risen from the dead and we’re just going to GO HOME and get back to fishing?! 

John shows us the reward of staying and lingering in the garden with the example of Mary.  Mary stays and weeps and is comforted by The Man himself.  Although she doesn’t at first see him as Jesus. 

Race and recognition. 

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