2016-03-27 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2016-03-27 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

< audio not available – sermon text below >

Easter Sermon

What a fun and pedometer-filling Easter story!

For us to get into the feel of the story….we need to get:

  • Bleary eyed. AS in, you just woke up from a deep sleep. Exhausted. Like you’ve been at an overnighter and you pulled an all-nighter. What do you want to do in the morning…sleep, right? Not here…you get up at 5:30 am and you trudge the ½ hour trek to the tomb of Jesus….
  • So, not only are you bleary eyed, but you’re out of breath. As in huffing & puffing tired. Can we get there? Because after going from the city to the tomb and then running full tilt for 15-20 minutes…you’re exhausted! Huffing and puffing exhausted!
  • And let’s also add in…weepy. As in eyes overflowing and bursting with tears. Think of your greatest sadness. Your greatest disappointment. You’re greatest let down….misplaced expectations….get to that point.

Bleary eyed. Exhausted. Teary eyed. Downcast.

Welcome to the first Easter!! [huh?]

What happen to the men in this story? They pack it in. Boo!
After racing to the tomb and getting all huffy and competitive about it (the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first!)
What do the men do? They go home!
What’s up with that men?? You see the linen cloths all folded neatly and you go home? Inconceivable!

Never the less…the men are gone. Bewildered and too tired to think more about the drama of the morning.

Thanks be to God for Women. Can I get a witness ladies??

The story tells us…. “BUT MARY…”

“But Mary stood…”

Thanks be to God for Mary.

She stood.

And stooped!

Bleary eyed. Exhausted. Teary eyed. Sobbing Mary stood and stooped.

And then was stunned….

By Angelic voices….perhaps the same ones that 33 years earlier had sang: “Glory to God in the highest…and peace to the people on earth!”

But this time, it wasn’t so celebratory….more pointed….more blunt.

“Why in the world are you weeping? Why are there tears in your eyes?”

And Mary stutters…. “They’ve taken away my Lord! I do not know where they’ve laid him!”

She feels a looming presence behind her, turns and gasps and bumps her face into the chest of a man.

She hears the man echo the angelic interrogation…

“Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Embarrased….(plus, exhausted, bleary eyed, and teary eyed!), she says:

“Garden-keeper…if you’ve carried him elsewhere, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him…”

The garden-keeper says her name…

And Mary melts….and leaps into his arms and cries out: My dear mentor and friend!!

And Jesus holds her but then puts his hands on her shoulders and says:
“Look at me…now is not the time to hold on…but go….to the brothers….say to them ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

And adrenaline-filled (but still bleary, exhausted, teary) Mary runs….and becomes the first POST-resurrection EVANGELIST of the good news story…
“I have seen the Lord!”

Today, we get to start the 5 for 50 journey.

Easter is 50 days, and we’ve got the whole season of Easter to be like…Mary.

5 words: “I have seen the Lord!”

We Christians sometimes get hung up or overwhelmed by the word evangelist. Or the word evangelism. But really, it just simply means that we bring good news. In a world full of bad news, doesn’t that sound like a great Christian calling?

So….let’s practice it together right now.

Name one place where you are seeing life come from death…and then exclaim, “I have seen the Lord!”

> Creation….the grass is getting greener!

> Creatures… a robin’s nest filled with squeaking babies…

> Human Creatures…a broken friendship…grows again…

> Symon….getting baptized and symbolizing his journey to new life in Christ…

> Whenever love wins VS hate…forgiveness VS resentment….mercy VS hard-heartedness….

> One poet put it this way:
“A stone has rolled away from my mind,
And I have looked in and seen
The old questions lie folded and in place by themselves,
Like the piled graveclothes of love’s risen body.”

** If we do this for 50 days….maybe it will become a spiritual practice/habit?

To be like MARY, it’s naming and proclaiming those places where we can say: “I have seen the Lord!”

And it’s not only a proclamation, but a promise….because we know that not every day is Easter Sunrise and bacon in the morning….there will be dark and lonely places that even this week, we’ll find ourselves in….but the promise of resurrection is that even in the midst of those dead places…Jesus is doing a work…Jesus taking the deadest spaces and places and showing us signs of life.
It’s a miracle…so we pray together phrases like…
God give us eyes to see…and ears to hear….
God give us each other to offer help along the way….
God, open the eyes of our hearts.

A great closing image for us comes from the NT Scholar John Dominic Crossan when he writes about how Jesus’ resurrection transforms our lives and our world right now…
“God’s Great Clean-Up of a world grown old in evil and impurity, injustice and violence has already begun … and we are called to participate in it.
The end of the world is not what we are talking about.
We’re talking about cosmic transformation of this world.”

— God’s Great Clean-Up (GGC w/ FBC)

— “Behold, I do a new thing…it springs forth…do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland…”

— So let’s run….perhaps bleary eyed, huffing and puffing, and teary-eyed… and let’s notice and name good news… 5 words for 50 days…“I have seen the Lord!”