Easter Homily 2009
If you ever wonder where Jesus is in your life,
the gospel of the resurrection
offers details of his whereabouts.
The story first tells us that even those who look for Jesus
faithfully, sincerely, even courageously -
even such as these often look for him in the wrong places.
The three women,
Mary Magdalene, the other Mary and Salome,
came looking for a dead Jesus - not a risen one.
And even in that quest they did not expect to be successful:
"Who will roll back the stone from the entrance to the tomb?"
They had a good case of the,
Ever been there? Ever sung that tune?
Ever thought that there was just no way out
and that any help Jesus had given you really hadn't worked
and now it seemed like he was fresh out of life preservers
to throw in your direction?
The three women were gutsy enough to come to the tomb
and thus identify themselves as friends of Jesus
-- but they thought the Jesus-days were done.
The angel in the tomb told them Jesus was no longer there
but their efforts and quest were not in vain.
Had they not come to the tomb, had they not come to the place
where their Hope had died and been buried,
they would not have seen that the stone that entombed their Hope
had been rolled back.
Had they not come to the tomb,
they would not have met the angel and heard the good news:
"He has been raised up.
He IS the life preserver to save you from your hopelessness."
And then comes the most important detail
of the whereabouts of the Jesus:
"He is going ahead of you to Galilee,
there you will see him, as he told you."
Imagine how much easier it would have been for the women
if the risen Jesus, not an angel, had been there to greet them.
But that's not the story here.
The women are told where Jesus is not
and they are told where they will find him,
but to find him they will need to trust that he is risen,
and lay down their grief, their hopelessness,
and continue to seek him:
ahead... over there... down the road apiece...
not right here and maybe not right now...
but there, ahead of you... leading the way...
showing you the way... beckoning you towards the light,
towards healing... to the peace he promises...
If we, this morning, are the women and the men
who come looking for Jesus,
then we, too, will need to ask,
"Who will roll back the stone,
who will roll back whatever sin or fear or hopelessness there is
that stands between the Lord and us?
And, like the women on the first Easter morning, the angel tells us,
"He has been raised up
for he is stronger than the stone,
he forgives your sins, he heals your fears,
he is the hope in your hopelessness...
"And he goes before you
to where you live and where you work.
He goes before you in a world plagued by war and terror.
He goes before you in this failing economy.
He goes before you in your personal problems.
He goes before you in your anxiety and heartache.
He goes before us in our sickness and grief.
He goes before you and yet is at your side every step of the way.
"Just as he told you..."
In just this faith in the risen Jesus,
we Confirmed three women last night.
In just this faith we all renew the promises of our baptism.
In just this faith we meet the risen Jesus this Easter morning
for the power of God has rolled back the stone
and he has gone ahead of us, not only to Galilee, but to this altar,
this table where he will meet us
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist,
"Just as he told us..."