Easter Call to Mutual Relationship, April 16, 2017

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, Easter Day, April 16, 2017, Year A, John 20:1-18

“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!”

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeem, Sustainer. Amen.

Alleluia, Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! — He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia!

Good morning! It is Resurrection Sunday and it is good to be here with you today!

Holy Week was busy around here. Folks gathered for prayers, prepared the space for all of the activities, celebrated the traditional Holy Week Services known as the Triduum, ate dinners, fasted, and then last night at the The Great Vigil of Easter, we feasted. It has been a memorable week. A beautiful week to remember as our first Holy Week together.

And I reflected on all that transpired throughout this past week, I recalled a question I have from time to time. About what it is we do when we assemble here, week after week, year after year. And why we do weird things like “Coffee Hour” and Vestry meetings.

Why some folks read the Bible for us from this podium, and we sing songs from the 4th century or pray prayers that have been passed down since the first Christians gathered in homes. And why we go through the same stories over, and over, and over again.

We’ve already heard this story about Mary Magdalene and the two male disciples racing each other to the tomb where Jesus had been laid. We’ve already heard the Passion narrative of Christ’s trial and crucifixion.

So why do we keep doing this, week after week, year after year?

I think this morning’s gospel had some clues as to why we need these sacraments, why we need to hear these stories in community, why we need one another.

You see, being a disciple of Jesus has never been an easy order to follow. Jesus was all about flipping scripts upside down and challenging the status quo. He did this, though, not just for change’s sake…that would be cruel. No, he did these things to fulfill scripture, to follow his Father’s will.

To bring about the way for us to call God, “friend.”

What this morning’s gospel lesson pointed out for us was that Jesus was all about relationship.

Not the kind of relationship that you can acquire overnight, either.

He was about transformative relationships.

Deep, vulnerable, honest, charitable relationships.

Ones where he could learn from them and they could learn from him.

Mutual.

He was about leveling statuses that produced pride and scorn.

He was about elevating the margins who’d been pushed aside and silenced.

“The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.”

Can’t you imagine this story being told around the campfire, about great grandpa Peter and his best friend, the disciple that Jesus loved?
Can’t you imagine hearing about the faith that the beloved disciple received that day when they witnessed the empty tomb?

Can’t you imagine hearing about the pain Mary Magdalene experienced as she mourned the death of her King?

“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!”

Mary is the star of today’s pericope.

She is the first to see Jesus and the first for him to speak to him after his resurrection.

She is the first evangelist, to share the Good News that Jesus is alive!

She was visited by TWO angels and the Risen Jesus.

Can you imagine?

I try, sometimes, to put myself into the text and feel all the feels of that moment. What did it smell like? What details in the surrounding would give me clues as to what was going on?
What was it like to walk in the sandals of the first disciples, covered in the dust from Christ’s feet?

The relationship Jesus had with his disciples, both the male and female ones, changed the world.

And as descendants of that reality, we get to become covered in his dust as well.

Over and over and over again.

God’s mission in the world is to redeem it, reconcile all of creation, and never stop calling us, never stop wooing us, never stop loving us back into relationship with him, creation, and our fellow humans.

That’s why the liturgy matters.

That’s why reading the lessons in community matters.

That’s why standing or kneeling at the rail next to your brother or sister, whether you agree with one another or not…matters.

Eastertide is about allowing the resurrection to seep down into our bones. During Lent, we are invited to fast. During Eastertide, you are obligated to feast. Therefore, let us keep the feast. Amen.