EASTER Alleluias! – Come and See; Go and Tell

Here is the Easter fact. Christ has been raised from the dead,

the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep.

As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Christ the first fruits, then at his coming, all who belong to Christ.

I Cor. 15: 20-23

This is our Easter story. Today, may it be yours, personally!

Easter may be a mystery. But there is no suspense in it.

That was long ago removed, when toward the dawn,

The Marys went to see the place where they laid him.

Cue the earthquake, (tymps) Scripture says. Let the angel speak,

(Voice) “He is not here! He is risen.”

Wonderfully fearful. Fearfully wonderful.

Come and see. Go and tell. This is our invitation, and our calling.

Come and see. Go and tell. These are the four verbs of Easter, the Four Horseman of Hope, shall we say. And should we ride these through the day, they may take us all the way to the Risen Christ!

By all means, any means, come. ‘To the place where they laid him. The garden tomb. I mean, really. Get up the sheer courage, the awesome audacity to make like the Marys on Easter Sunday. Oh, I’m glad, personally joyful, to see every one here who’s come to church this morning. And we have done our best to make it look like a garden where the Savior would be glorified to rise. But if you were to make the journey of the Mary’s, you’d need to do it in a similar way. You’d need to come prepared to deal with what you’ve loved and lost. ‘Wrestled with and not prevailed. Surrendered, unsure if you’d survive. These sweet Marys come in the dark. They have no sense of anything but sepulcher. ‘No destination that alters, excludes or redeems death. They get up before sun-up fully expecting to weep and mourn. And they rise prepared to lay it all at the tomb of their beloved Jesus. Friends, if you truly want to come to Jesus on this Easter Day, like those first witnesses to the miracle, you and I will need to come “packin’ heat.” I mean, willing to bring with you every sad and lonely and ugly and doubting and denying and dead thing inside you. Nobody gets a corsage for this part of Easter. Or a new tie or their shoes shined on Saturday night, or a great meal with grandma. But if we’re not willing to lug into the morning mist, the grief we’ve felt since Easter last, the anger we have felt for God not making our world, the whole world a little better, we may get a great holiday today, but we will get no-glimpse-in-our-souls of resurrection glory! No, to come to the tomb of Jesus is to come ready to lay all your own deadliness down, right there beside Jesus. Then: watch!

Did you catch what the story reveals? “Behold,” that means, “Look and see”, see mind you, “the earth shakes (tymps/thunder), even the air of heaven trembles. Angels fall like lightning from the sky… roll away the stone and take a seat. It’s tough to tell whether they look more like the lightning, or maybe, a marvelous Easter snowfall!

But we’re here to see something more. Not even a rock-hard tomb can bury Jesus more than three days. (Voice) “He is not here! He is risen.” The Mary’s didn’t get it altogether. But they were at least willing to open their eyes and see. And over time to see fully. Our Easter Jesus breaks the power of canceled sin and swallows death with victory. Do you see what this means? Are we ready to look? Emily is. Louise, too.

Both 90+. I admit I’ve changed their names, for privacy’s sake. But each was very real and true when I visited this week. Both have terrible trouble swallowing. Wounds that will not heal. Eyes that do not see. Ears that hardly hear. Both share troubles truthfully, but not bitterly. Neither holds her pain, just carries it to the empty tomb and lays it there for Jesus to take with him when he rises. After communion they both said almost exactly the same thing to me. “I want you to know. I’m truly grateful for every day God gives me, despite everything. But I like Easter best. It tells me my aches won’t win. Dying either. I’m gonna get up. Dance. Hear angels sing. Make ice cream out of milk and honey. And I’m gonna give God and Jesus both my best kiss ever.” Emily and Louise are someday, somewhere beyond the sky, gonna meet up with the Easter Marys. Together they’re going to enthuse, “Did you see what I saw on that great good morning in the garden?” And each will smile at the other and say, “I sure did!” Friends, come to Easter as they come, see as they see, and you too can join that conversation.

Conversation. That brings us to those other two Easter action words. Go and tell. The Easter story is not ended, climaxed, ‘til we go and tell somebody! Oh, we cannot, dare not go from the empty tomb any old way. We will be changed. Despite the angels’ calling, (Voice) “Do not be afraid,” the empty tomb is not enough to conquer the Marys’ fear. (Ours either.) But then, they see the risen Lord. Fright melts. Joy makes an all new thunder (tymps/thunder) in their hearts. We’re never the same again! I like how Paul, who also saw the risen Christ, describes what happens next for us Easter people. “IF THEN you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on things on earth, because [it’s like] you have died [and been raised], and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Col. 3: 1-4 The Marys are told, “Go.”  So are we. And when we go out from this Resurrection Garden, we’ll begin to tell, just by how others can see we have been changed. No longer looking down, but up. No longer stuck in this life’s sticky situations, but with hearts and minds set on something so-much-more. Years ago, counseling a troubled couple, the wife came in with a new complaint after several months. “Reverend, I can’t stand Frank any more. He’s impossible to live with.” “I see. What’s he doing now that’s so disturbing?” “It’s not what he’s doing. It’s what he’s not. It’s who he’s become. Ever since he started Bible study, he’s been changing. And when he got to the Easter part, well, he said that raised up Jesus spoke to him. And now I can’t get him to argue about the kids’ hair, the check book, even my mother! what am I going to do with him?!” Ah, sometimes we go and tell without saying a word. BUT IT’S EVEN BETTER WHEN WE DO! The Marys head for the shuttered Upper Room to tell the other (fear-filled) disciples where they can find Jesus. How about you? And me? When we leave the Easter Garden today, where will we head? To the family table, the train station or the 7-11 on the way to work tomorrow, the soccer field for practice or the school room for studies. The grocery store or the hair dresser’s. Wherever you’re headed, this week, will you tell somebody, “I have seen the risen Lord!” Dear friends, it’s Easter! Come and see. Go and tell!

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