When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Raised to New Life by Our Living God
The manuscript for my sermon changed dramatically on Saturday afternoon. By the time Sunday morning arrived I was in a very different place than where I started. What follows are my notes for the week in manuscript form. They contain the bones of the sermon that was preached on Sunday. I post them here as more of a guide to the sermon that an actual manuscript.
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen indeed, Hallelujah!
These words ring out across the world today. Used as a greeting in some cultures, these words of God’s victory over death are a symbol of ultimate hope for us who trust in the power of God.
We journey this morning to the empty to with the women on the early morning of the first day of the week.
The fear of the women captures our own fear and trembling at the hope that God can really bring life out of death. The world spins with news that is so contrary to the hope we proclaim at Easter. It seems that all too often, death has the final word. Death is a constant companion. It’s easy to say “He has risen indeed, Alleluia!” It’s much more difficult to live as if that reality is alive in our midst.
Mark weaves his story together well. At the empty tomb the women are told that Jesus has been raised. This word from the young man matters. We’ve encountered it before in Mark’s story of Jesus.
Hegero - “to be raised” - is an important word. Its not just here at the tomb that we hear about folks being raised. We’ve witnessed Jesus raising people to new life throughout his ministry.
So we take the young man’s advice and go back to Galilee to encounter these raisings again. Back to Galilee where Jesus kicks off his ministry, fresh out of the wilderness, to the tune of “The kingdom of God has drawn near. Turn around and trust in the good news!”
The kingdom of God draws near through Jesus bringing life out of death. That’s the power of our God. To bring life out of death. I have attached links to previous reflections on each of these stories.
Mark 1:29-31 - Jesus raises Simon’s mother-in-law, giving her new life to serve.
Mark 2:1-12 - A man who cannot walk is brought to Jesus by friends. Jesus raises the man to new life. He is no longer defined by “sin” leveled at him by the religious leaders. He can actually get up and walk and participate in the life of the community.
Mark 3:1-6 - A man with a withered hand is in the synagogue when Jesus is present. Jesus raises this man to new life.
Mark 5:35-43 - Jesus raises Jarius’ daughter, giving her new life.
Mark 9:20-29 - Jesus raises a young boy, giving him new life.
Mark 10:46-52 - Jesus empowers the crowd to help in raising Bartimaeus to new life.
This is the story that Mark tells. Jesus brings life out of death. I am not talking always of physical death. You and I know what it feels like to be as good as dead to the world. We have life, but are not fully alive. Something holds us back. Something keeps us in a tomb of sorts. A job that overworks us and steals time away from the life of the family. Dwindling retirement accounts. Bullying at school. Brokenness relationships in our families or friends. We know these things that make us feel as good as dead.
The call to return to Galilee leads us to consider how the ministry of Jesus, that began in Galilee, shapes our lives as followers. We encounter how Jesus raises others to new life, hear the good news at the tomb, and return to the Galilee’s of our life to see where God is already at work.
We are called back to Galilee. Back to where our lives unfold. Where our little worlds matter. To family, friends, happiness, brokenness, hope, despair, longing, dreaming, contentment….
Do we dare dream that the resurrection is a possible reality for us?
Quotes from Scott Hoezee - Center for Excellence in Preaching 2015
“Galilee” is the place where most of us live. Most of us live not in the citadels of power or in the glare of the bright lights of history. No, we live in the Galilees of the world, on the margins, in those places where the powers-that-be do not visit and that they do not know much about more often than not.”
Today we proclaim the victory of God in Jesus Christ. Today we remember that God has the power to rolled away the stones of the tombs in our lives. The tombs that hold us trapped by the feeling of being as good as dead.
Today we proclaim the great victory of God in Jesus Christ.
- Jesus raises our crippled imaginations to see the power of God at work.
- Jesus resurrects our atrophied trust in the power of God in our lives.
- Jesus rekindles our hope that God is indeed with us in this world.
We are raised to new life by our living God.