NO MORE TEARS…He Is RISEN

NO MORE TE(a)ARS, NO MORE TE(e)ARS! Christ is risen. Risen indeed! It’s EASTER! First comes Mary. In the dark! John’s Gospel’s clear about that. STILL: she sees the stone’s been rolled away. Wait! Wasn’t it dark? Surely, no street lamps! So where’s the light come from so she can see?  Where else but the tomb… a kind of bright footprint of the Risen Lord? An afterglow, and to Mary, a bedazzling bewilderment. Even before sun-up, she is torn and teary. She doesn’t get it. ‘Dashes to the disciples. “They musta taken the Lord right out of his tomb! God only knows where!” Peter and John book-it to the scene on the dead run. (And they do believe they are running to the dead.) By now it’s sun-up. No need of torches or the like. When they look in, they see the rumpled grave clothes and the rest. So intense the moment, it burns their eyes (and souls) like a too-bright-flash-bulb in a too-dark instant. You know that sensation! Oh, they believe: Jesus is gone, not risen! John’s report is clear on this point. Once again, tearing and tears on Easter morn. Only Mary lingers. Christ Risen appears to her. She mistakes him as the gardener. How can this be? Well… did you ever see someone… coming toward you right out of the sunlight? ‘Like a charred-black shadow on in a field of blazing light! Mary’s torn up and tears torrent down! It turns out Easterseeing-is-believing doesn’t work. It rarely does. No, the Easter truth is: we have to believe… to see! Resurrection turns everything inside out and upside down. We weep. He calls our name, like Mary’s. We turn. We see. We are whole again, for the first time!

Even death is swallowed up in victory.

No more sting. NO MORE TE(a)ARS, NO MORE TE(e)ARS!

You and I, we come to this Easter morning out of a broken, weeping world. ‘Just like Mary! Oh, to begin with, there is that backlog of botched living. The church calls that sin. We don’t really know Mary’s list exactly, any more than anybody else in this room knows yours, except for God alone. But we all got a list! ‘All that tears us apart (Paper); all that tears us up (Kleenex). Then too, there are those dislocations and ruptured relations. Kids run away, even here! Bullies don’t just badger in the Massachusetts news. They beat kids off a bike in Crofton and we are left to mourn. Mary’s not alone in her loneliness. Whatever Christ forgave in her, the part of her without friendship, warmth, companionship, confidence, even hope, we’ve got that empty part, too. Like Mary, John and Peter we live in an occupied land, foreign-army overrun. No Romans here, I know. But wars and rumors of war abound. Amazing, pirates still make the news. 7-17 year olds now hold the keys to technologies that occupy or overwhelm us. Our emperors have corporate names we carry on our charge/debit cards. Master Card and Visa put Pontius Pilate and Caesar to shame! We long to liberate our lives, just as they. So when a Savior comes to call, we sit up and take note. We lean on him as they leaned. We love him, this JESUS, as they loved. And when our time crucifies him, just as theirs did (and it surely does), we too come mourning to the grave. ‘Expecting the same tearing, death and dying we have always known. ‘Little wonder our teary-bleary eyes don’t see straight. Why, even Christ himself looks like the gardener to us. But there is news this Easter. Good news! The best of news!

Just when we’re ready to give up, give in and get outta this garden, the Risen Jesus calls us by name! He calls Mary. SHE TURNS. And everything changes! O, friends, this bright fine Easter mornin’, listen for your name. Turn around AND SEE! Nothing remains the same. Peter’s 1st (NT) Letter’s got it right. “Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for.” Mary is ready to leave alright. Just a gimpy gardener and a hollow tomb, all that remain for her hope. But then he calls and she turns. And suddenly, neither tears nor tears…. The run-up to Easter always places me in Mary-moments where changing direction makes all the difference. An elder saint on a bed of confusion looks up at me in a brief clear moment. “I just can’t keep anything straight. I don’t know where I am or why I’m here. It’s like by brain’s hollow.” Now, listen for the turning. A shaky hand finds and clutches a cross around the neck. He’s alive again. On Jesus’ behalf, I speak a name. This sorrowing face looks up and says, “At least I know who’s with me.” Here is SEEING! Resurrection! A battling couple can’t even speak to each other. (Not you, that other couple!) They’ll talk to me, just not each other. But, finally one of them stops the himming and herring, TURNS and calls the other by name. The anger melts a little. The hurt eases. Hope happens. It’s like Christ himself has said your name! Resurrection becomes real. This is no dirt-digger/weed-puller/gardener; this is Jesus, alive and not dead. (I SEE.) A family mourns a loss here, weeks after the passing. Lovely words are spoken of the life. And that helps. But the loss still lingers, and no one sees clearly in this morning mist? But we name our beloved. It’s like Jesus calling us all to turn. And we do. And as Jesus is alive and real, so is the one we remember! Resurrection! This is no metaphor, no figure of speech. “If this life is our only hope in Christ, what a pity! In fact Christ has been raised from the dead, [truly] the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. …then at his coming those who belong to Christ. When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, Christ will take his own place, a perfect ending! … The saying will come to pass, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (I Cor. 15, Message inspired)

“Raboni!” Mary exclaims. “Teacher!” we are told she means. But what she means to say, what she feels is nothing less than this. “It’s you! YOU! YOU, Jesus! You who once were dead are alive again, and this is everybody’s birthday! Now, only tearing and tears are born to die. Not us. Not we who believe. The prophet of the Revelation (21) sees it like this. “A new heaven and a new earth; a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” Everything’s all turned around. “The dwelling of God is with us.” We, whom God has called, turn and see. We shall be his people, and God himself will be with us; God will wipe every tear from our eyes, death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more. These are ‘used to be’ things, now passed away.”

I invite you, stand up (if you can). Turn around. Everybody.

Isn’t there something back there that tears you up. (Paper)

Turn to your right. Take a look. ‘To your left. Lean forward.

Don’t you see somethin’/somebody that just makes you wanna cry? (Kleenex)

Now turn forward if you will. Look into the Resurrection Garden.

That cross there? Do you see it? On Friday Jesus was on that cross.

We who were here saw him. Big as life… or death.

Where is he now? Not there. Not in the tomb. Not dead but alive!

And so are you! And you can live with him forever.

NO MORE TE(A)ARS. NO MORE TE(e)ARS.

Dry your tears. He mends your tears.  Turn! See! Tell!

He is risen. Risen indeed!

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