resurrection & thanksgiving

worshipmatters october 9, 2020       

John 20.1-18    pastordonna

1-2 Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”

3-10 Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.

11-13 But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”

13-14 “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.

15 Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”

She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”

16 Jesus said, “Mary.”

Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”

17 Jesus said, “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: “I saw the Master!” And she told them everything he said to her.

This of all Thanksgiving weekends, we need the central story of Jesus’ resurrection to encourage us and highlight that goodness is often wrapped in uncertainty.

We note, first of all, that Mary has the courage to show up in the darkness and face the death of her Rabbi head on. We note that twice she says, “We/I don’t know.” She weeps. She doesn’t recognize Christ when he’s right in front of her.

She has courageously walked into the darkness of uncertainty.

Perhaps we’re in a better position than ever to put ourselves in her sandals and trust resurrection for ourselves.

Jesus’ Kingdom Way is one of death and resurrection and don’t we hate the death part!

Walter Brueggemann, in his new book of response to the COVID pandemic, “Summons to Faith: Biblical Reflections in a Time of Loss, Grief and Uncertainty” writes:

The truth of newness from the human side is that God’s gift comes at huge cost, the cost of acknowledging that old creation has failed and is dysfunctional, the awareness that new creation requires disciplined, intentional reception. As a result, the move from old to new entails bewildering loss of control that comes in relinquishment. The move from an old creation … to the new world of justice, mercy, compassion, peace, and security is one that … necessitates renunciation, repentance, yielding, and ceding of what has been.

His words apply to the current socio-economic and political crisis that our world is struggling with. And it also applies to our personal lives and our lives as a Foothills community. Our God is a God of resurrection, of new life. Thanks be!

Our challenge is to first let go of what has been, to renunciate, repent, yield and cede the past (to not cling to Jesus as Mary did) and with open hearts and minds and hands to embrace fairness, forgiveness, compassion, courage---the radical upside-down Jesus Way in which those with the least sit at the head of the table. This is indeed good news for many. And a loss of status and influence for others.

As we pause this Thanksgiving weekend to focus on what we are truly grateful for, let’s not forget to notice goodness that is often wrapped in uncertainty and relinquishment.