He is Risen! Our April 4 Easter Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The April 11 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. We will still be wearing masks, social distancing and lots of hand sanitizer, but we will be open.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD
Acts 10:34-43 | Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 | John 20:1-18
“Early on the first day of the week.” Early, that usually indicates something important, or urgent, which needs to be taken care of before anything else. First day of the week, that is Sunday, look at a calendar (except some of the made in Japan varieties—now starting the week on Monday). Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb. That is why Christians worship on a Sunday, and usually in the morning (though I’m not to sure about that “early” part, especially the before dawn part). Christians do not worship on the Sabbath, like the Jews, Mary had to wait until the Sabbath was over, which is Saturday night, to make the journey to the tomb because of the Sabbath Laws on travel. Rather, Christians worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead. That is one thing which separates Christians from Jews.
So, the day begins with an act of devotion. Mary is performing a duty to her dead teacher, leader and friend. Mary, and quite possibly some others (according to the other gospels), goes to the tomb early, as soon as it is light enough to see and travel. She goes to finish the anointing and embalming of Jesus’ body which Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had performed Friday evening. There had not been time enough to do this completely before the beginning of the Sabbath and the Festival of Passover. He had died about 3:00 in the afternoon, and had hung on the cross probably for some time before Joseph of Arimathea had gotten permission from Pontius Pilate to bury the body. It had to be done. Usually the bodies of a crucifixion were not taken down and buried. That was part of the horror of that form of execution. So, even though Nicodemus had brought 70 pounds of herbs for embalming, they probably did not have enough time to do a proper job by the time they got Jesus’ body to Joseph’s new tomb, because of the start of the Sabbath. The Sabbath starts in the evening when the 4th star is visible in the night’s sky. And when the Sabbath begins, no one is allowed to do any work with their hands. There wasn’t much time. Mary is probably going to do the job proper.
On the way, after a dreadful couple of days, she was probably wondering what awaited her. She was probably wondering about the stone door at the tomb, and how to move it. But, she finds something even more dreadful, the stone has been moved away. What has happened? Has someone desecrated the tomb? Has the body been stolen? Some act by Jesus’ enemies to prevent any rumors of his predicted resurrection? No, that was the reason for the Roman guards at the tomb. Where were the guards? She runs to Peter and the others. She needs help. Something has happened, and she can’t cope with it right now. The shock of the last few days had already taken a toll on her.
Peter and John run to the tomb, after hearing her tale. They are worried too. John gets there first, younger and faster, but doesn’t go in. Peter, as usual, plunges right into the tomb, as he plunged into everything. The tomb is empty, only the grave cloths. That is enough to cause Peter and John to wonder, or at least to start to believe that Jesus has risen, as he said he would. They had not understood the scriptures, nor Jesus’ own predictions of the resurrection. But, now, they begin to believe, but they don’t talk to Mary about it. They leave to tell the others, and consider their own thoughts. They don’t say anything at this time, they are not sure themselves. Can we blame them?
But Mary remains. She doesn’t know what to think. She really doesn’t understand what has happened, but who can blame her as well? All that Mary knows is that the body of her Lord is missing. Someone must have moved it. But who? And why? The questions are logical. But, the answers are not logical at all.
Peering into the tomb, there are now two angels there. She is so deep in her grief and anguish, that that vision doesn’t even phase her! And as she turns, there is the Risen Christ!! He reveals himself to her, as he calls her by name. He has come to comfort her, to take her misery away, to strengthen her faith.
This is the first resurrection appearance. The impossible, the miraculous has happened. The Risen Christ comes to tell her the Good News, personally. She is the first witness to the Resurrection. Jesus’ body is not stolen, rather something extraordinary, wonderful, even divine has happened. Jesus has been raised from the death. By the power of the glory of God, he is victorious even over the power of death. He is risen, He is risen indeed. He is the Son of God, the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.
It is this appearance of the Risen Christ in person which convinces her, and the others. Quite simply, she cannot not believe. He is raised, and standing beside her, talking to her. She can see and touch him. She is the first witness to the message, the central message and creed, which the Church proclaims, and has for nearly 2,000 years: Jesus Christ is risen today. He is risen, indeed.
D. That is the message which we proclaim this day, and every day. Death could not hold him. The powers of sin, death and evil are broken by the power of God in Christ. And now, Christ holds those who believe, now and forever, in His grace, even beyond the end of the age.