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He is Risen!

The Gospel

John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

The Sermon

Desperately Searching for God

Mary Magdalene is the first to go to the tomb and she finds it empty. You can imagine her panic. She had gone to do the final ritual preparations for his body and there is no body. Her first impulse is to alert Jesus's followers of the crisis. Peter and another disciple run to the tomb as well to confirm what Mary has told them. In despair he and the other disciple leave, but Mary stays. Her grief will not let her leave.

Can you imagine Mary's sense of despair when she sees that the body of Jesus is no longer in the tomb. Her lord has been viciously murdered and now to make things even worse his body is gone so she cannot perform the rituals require for his body.

And then, there he is! Mary's emotions take a complete turn from utter despair to intense joy. It happened! Jesus is truly resurrected. Can you just imagine what that must have been like?

Can you think of a time in your life when you felt utter despair and then within moments things changed for the better? Please share.

Here is a story about a man who had this kind of experience.

A man was blissfully driving along the highway, when he saw the Easter Bunny hopping across the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the Bunny, but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of his car and was hit. The basket of eggs went flying all over the place. Candy, too. The driver, being a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulled over to the side of the road, and got out to see what had become of the Bunny carrying the basket. Much to his dismay, the colorful Bunny was dead.

The driver felt guilty and began to cry.

A woman driving down the same highway saw the man crying on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of her car and asked the man what was wrong. ''I feel terrible,'' he explained, ''I accidentally hit the Easter Bunny and killed it. There may not be an Easter because of me. What should I do? ''The woman told the man not to worry. She knew exactly what to do.

She went to her car trunk, and pulled out a spray can. She walked over to the limp, dead Bunny, and sprayed the entire contents of the can onto the little furry animal. Miraculously, the Easter Bunny came to back life, jumped up, picked up the spilled eggs and candy, waved its paw at the two humans and hopped on down the road.

50 yards away the Easter Bunny stopped, turned around, waved and hopped on down the road another 50 yards, turned, waved hopped another 50 yards and waved again!!!! The man was astonished. He couldn't figure out what could possibly be in that woman's spray can!! He said to the woman, ''What in heaven's name is in your spray can?''

The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the label. It said: ''Hair spray. Restores life to dead hair. Adds permanent wave.''

The story of Jesus's ressurection has changed the lives of millions of Christians for thousands of years. It is integral to our faith. In the next few weeks we will read about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. Jesus has changed. He now does things like suddenly appear, walk through walls and as happened to Mary in this reading keep his presence from being known.

How can this have happened. Are we to believe this could really have happened. That is where faith comes in.

I was reading something the other day. The author was saying that religion should have two important components. One is the stories. Stories engage us. We remember stories and in a way they connect us to the characters we hear about. The Book of Job comes to mind as does today's reading about Mary Magdeline. Through those stories we are given examples of how we should live our lives. Sometimes we have to dig deeply but those messages are there.

The content of the bible, knowing chapter and verse, is a good thing but what is life changing is living the bible's message. It needs to speak to us as Christians. Jesus's early followers called themselves followers of the way. The bible is a light that help us to better see the direction we need to take on our way, our path, through life.

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