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Easter Day April 5, 2015 - The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthian, 15:1-11;
          John 20:1-18
Christ Episcopal Church
Tacoma, Washington
Sunday, April 5, 2015
The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
Mary Magdalene crept to the tomb
          while it was still dark . . .
                   and stepped into Easter light.
She came to the tomb
          to grieve a death . . .
                    and found new and risen life.
She came to the tomb
          empty of all hope . . .          
                   and was filled with resurrection joy.
She came to say goodbye
          to a friend and teacher . . .
                    and was greeted by her risen Lord and savior.

She came,
          all alone in the world . . .
          and was embraced by Love.
Today, we have come
          with Mary,
seeking not the dead
          but the living . . .
but perhaps unsure
          what we will find . . .
and resurrection is finding us,
finding us
in one another,
the Body of the risen Christ gathered . . .
finding us
in the Word of God proclaimed . . .
Good News so gi-normous
it has escaped from
          the pages of the Gospel book
and flung itself
          onto the great Gospel banner . . .

finding us
in symbol and Sacrament . . .
          baptismal font brimming with water,
          Easter candle burning bright,
          bread and wine prepared for the feast . . .
and all around us,
light and joy and laughter and love.
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb
          while it was still dark . . .
and it was gaping open . . .
Shock and fear and dismay,
and a lot of confused running back and forth.
Simon Peter,
screwing up his courage,
went right in there,
not knowing what awful thing
he might find . . .
but there was nothing . . .
nothing but the linen wrappings
          neatly laid aside,
the head cloth rolled up,
          carefully set apart.

Peter and the beloved disciple
not sure
what to make of it . . .
for they did not yet understand
. .  . it was resurrection.
Home they went
and missed it.
But Mary stayed there weeping,
bent over to look into the tomb herself  . . .
two angels were there,
sitting where the body had been . . .
Wings softly rustling,
stirring the air,
          they were
          contemplating the wonder
                   of resurrection.
“Why are you weeping?”
          they asked her.
She turned
(her turning the beginning of con-version)
for there stood . . .
the gardener perhaps? –

We, of course, already know
it was the risen One
in resurrection’s strange guise . . .
perhaps not so strange, after all,
to find him a gardener
          tending the new Eden
                   resurrection was bringing into being.
“Whom are you looking for?”
he asked her.
We’ve heard those words before . . .
          addressed to the soldiers
          who came to arrest him . . .
and now to the woman
          who has come to mourn him.
And then, her name:
Again she turned,
turned toward belief;
in her heart
a stone rolled away . . .
Her name,
the word that sums up
          who she is.

This man knows her name.
This man knows her,
          knows her as no one else ever
                   has known her.
And now she knows him.
In joyful surprise,
she reaches out to touch him,
but, no . . .
“Do not hold on to me.
Go, go to the others,
and tell them . . .
tell them . . .
A strange and stirring story,
and we tell it anew this Easter morning.
Resurrection . . .
confusing, perplexing, improbable . . .
of course it doesn’t make sense.
Since when must God  “make sense?”
for God’s ways are not our ways . . .
and God is not governed
          by what we think is possible . . .
How limited life would be,
if bounded
          by what we think is possible.
What? Where? When? Why? How?
are questions reporters
must ask and answer.
But the gospel writers
were not reporters
standing outside an event.
They were swept up into the event,
and proclaim it to us
          in all its improbability,
for they were living its reality.
We can ask our questions,
but in the end
there is resurrection.
“There have been times,”
wrote Welsh poet and priest
R.S. Thomas,
a man whose struggles with faith were lifelong,
“there have been times
when, after long on my knees
in a cold chancel, a stone has rolled
from my mind, and I have looked
in and seen the old questions lie
folded and in a place
by themselves, like the piled
graveclothes of love’s risen body.”      from the poem “The Answer”

“a stone has rolled
from my mind, and I have looked
in and seen the old questions lie
folded and in a place
by themselves, like the piled
graveclothes of love’s risen body.”
“a stone has rolled from my mind”
and resurrection has called us by name.
What will we tell
about this Easter morning
when we go from this place . . .
Easter finery on display,
festival music stirring the heart,
pageantry and ritual action,
followed by
a scroll dug up from
          its Lenten grave in the garden,
Eggs to find,
Treats to share . . .
Was that what
we were looking for?
Yes, of course!
But there is so much more.
May we not miss it!
“Do you not know,”
the apostle Paul asked us last night
          at the end of the Easter Vigil,
“Do you not know that all of us
who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism
          into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we, too, might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we shall certainly be united with him
in a resurrection like his.”                      [Romans 6:3-11]
When our hearts are wintry,
          grieving, or in pain,
God’s touch can call us
          back to life again,
fields of our hearts
that dead and bare have been . . .
the gardener tends our growing,
like wheat that springeth green.
Resurrection has found us.
Let us turn,
turn again,
toward the light,
the joy,
the life,
the love,
of Easter.
But we cannot hold onto it.
It is a gift given,
ours only to be given away.
Go and tell them,
says the gardener of our souls.
Go and tell them . . .
the ones beyond these walls . . .
I have put my joy, my hope, my life, my love within you . . .
you, my risen Body . . .
go, tell my aching world,
Alleluia! Christ is risen!