First Congregational Church
April 17, 2022
Easter Resurrection Sunday
Scripture: Various Gospel Verses
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Scripture Compilation (T: Matthew, K: Mark, L: Luke, J: John)
K16:1-8 Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, M16:9-11 the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons., Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.
K16:1-8 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb, L24:1-11 taking the spices they had prepared. K16:1-8 On the way, they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” L24:1-11 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. T28:1-8 Suddenly there was a great earthquake!
T28:1-8 An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. T28:1-8 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. T28:1-8 The guards shook with fear when they saw him and fell into a dead faint.
T28:1-8 Then the angel spoke to the women. T28:1-8 “Don’t be afraid!” he said. T28:1-8 “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. T28:1-8 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. T28:1-8 Come, see where his body was lying.
J20:11-18 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. L24:1-11 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes, J20:11-18 one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
L24:1-11 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. L24:1-11 Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone alive? L24:1-11 They went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus.
K16:1-8 The women were shocked, but the angel said, J20:11-18 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. J20:11-18 “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
K16:1-8 “Don’t be alarmed. K16:1-8 You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. K16:1-8 He isn’t here! K16:1-8 He is risen from the dead! K16:1-8 Look, this is where they laid his body.
L24:1-11 Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” L24:1-11 Then they remembered that he had said this.
T28:1-8 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples, including Peter, that he has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you to Galilee. T28:1-8 You will see him there K16:1-8 just as he told you before he died.” T28:1-8 Remember what I have told you.”
J20:11-18 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. J20:11-18 It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. J20:11-18 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. J20:11-18 “Whom are you looking for?” J20:11-18 She thought he was the gardener. “J20:11-18 Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” J20:11-18 “Mary!” Jesus said. J20:11-18 She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
J20:11-18 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. J20:11-18 But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
T28:1-8 The women ran quickly from the tomb, K16:1-8 trembling and bewildered, T28:9-10 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. T28:9-10 And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. T28:9-10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! T28:9-10 Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
T28:1-8 They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. K16:1-8 They said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.
J20:1-2 They ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. J20:11-18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” J20:11-18 Then she gave them his message.
K16:1-8 briefly reporting all this to Peter and his companions, M16:9-11 who were grieving and weeping. J20:1-2 She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” M16:9-11 But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen him, they didn’t believe her.
J20:3-10 Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. L24:12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. J20:3-10 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. J20:3-10 He stooped, looked in, and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.
J20:3-10 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. J20:3-10 He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. J20:3-10 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. J20:3-10 Then they went home.
Thank you, Phil. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m coming to appreciate - more and more - the combination of all the Gospels when it comes to Holy Week, especially Sunday. The writer of Mark says there was one angel. Mark has a short ending and a long ending. Luke has two angels. John spends very little time with the women at the tomb but gives us that intimate moment of recognition between Jesus and Mary. By and large, the Gospels were written some thirty years after Jesus’ last week. What do you remember about April 17, 1992?
And then there have been a few things that have happened even since last year even. From the road being rebuilt in front of Family Fare, to masks on masks off, to the Ukrainian war, to the loss and gain of individuals in our own families and that of this church family, a lot has happened. So it’s good to be reminded of our roots, when it comes to the scripture passages, and the reminders we get from them.
I confess that I did something I’ve never done before: I went to Meijer’s on Good Friday afternoon. I had some unavoidable dental surgery about noon, and feeling well enough, there were some things on my list that would be good to get while I was there. Oh, my heavens! It was packed! If Christmas carols had been playing, one might have thought it was Christmas rather than Easter.
While I was passing along that area in the main aisle near the seasonal, aka, summer stuff is, there were oodles of people around the pallets of candy and Easter-mabobs. It was interesting that there were no jelly beans or those malted milk ball eggs. Not a package to be found. Easter Snickers, Easter Kit Kats, all those sorts of things were there, but no jelly beans. In full confession, I know they had them in previous weeks, but there was nothing left, that’s for sure.
So maybe the candy bars were all that was left - the eggs being sold out. Or maybe there has been a shift in the Easter palate. Whatever the reason, it was different. And we don’t always do well with different or change. One of the best understandings of how we deal with change is in the famous line, especially as it pertains to churches, is “Change? My grandmother gave that lightbulb.”
It’s true that churches can get stuck sometimes, just like any other living entity. But that’s why it’s good to go through Holy Week and Easter, to be reminded of the Good News of that which is foundational and unchanging: God’s overwhelming love and grace to and with a world of individuals that don’t always warrant those things.
It’s not even that we’re so bad all the time, but just human, in need of One who is greater than ourselves, because having the responsibility of life - all life - is way too much for any of us to handle on our own - as mere mortals.
The God who raised Christ - and us - is not One that creates us and then leaves us alone, but is with us in each and every breath we take: in us and outside of us and all around us.
We celebrate, too, that this God we worship isn’t vindictive or pedantic, but gracious and faithful. And God created us to be in relationship not just now, but for eternity. So God gave Christ - for that one point in time - as well as the Holy Spirit - for all the points in time. God - and Christ - didn’t have to go through all the events of that last week, but chose to do so, that we could know all that grace and love.
God allowed for all that surrounded Christ’s last week so that we could know that we are not alone or unloveable but deeply loved - beyond comprehension, beyond the everyday love we experience with those around us, which, in turn, can give us the strength to go through even the hardest moments that life can present to us.
I read of odd behavior that happens between Canada geese and hail. Apparently, instead of trying to shield their heads, the geese pointed their bills skyward, directly into the path of the hail. The geese point the smallest surface area of their sensitive bills, the narrow tip, into the hail — minimizing the impact and the possibility of getting hit.
When we look at Christ’s last week and all of God’s love for us, it’s like we point our beaks at life’s difficulties, exposing the smallest surface area of our hearts to pain and disappointment, minimizing pain’s impact. We’ll still get hit with the hail of life from time to time, but practicing our faith and strengthening our relationship with God and the three persons of God allows for the hardships of life to be lived through. And if that was all that our faith would do, that would be well and fine.
But strengthening our divine relationships makes our human relationships just that much better, too. Revisiting Holy Week, Christ’s death, and resurrection helps strengthen our muscles of care, our tendons of understanding, and our bones of compassion.
Our God is an awesome God, who reigns, and will do so forever, loving us eternally with more heart than we will ever be able to comprehend. And we know this because of an empty tomb. So shall we pray?
Holy God, Holy Christ, Holy Spirit, thank you for loving us with all that you have. We sometimes fail to fully appreciate the enormity and impact of such love, but this day reminds us to at least take a glimpse of it all. Thank you, Christ Jesus, for doing what we could not have done, bringing down the barriers to the very One who created us. And to you, great, Holy Spirit, help us to ride on the waves of this love long into the coming weeks. For such love and all your blessings, all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.