Mark 16:1-8

 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.”

May God Bless to our understanding the words that we hear today


 Will you pray with me please?  May the Words of my mouth and the meditation of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen

There is an ancient liturgy of the Church, which works like this: The worship leader, looking out on the people gathered for worship and proclaims:

Knock, knock!

And the people would respond: "who’s there?”

He Is

He is who?

His is Risen!

He is Risen indeed!

He is Risen.

"He is risen indeed." 

Is He?  Really?  I mean, yes, the tomb is empty! But is it because he has truly risen or are we just the butt of big April Fool’s joke, is there really something to celebrate here?

I am not asking that to be flip, I don’t mean any disrespect, I am not suggesting that our celebration today in worship is without meaning. But I just wonder…. I have proclaimed: "He is Risen." You have responded to this statement of faith with: "He is risen, indeed." And so, I ask you, as well as myself, what does it mean?

 What does it mean to us that Jesus is Risen? What does it mean that the tomb is empty? What does it mean, deep down in your heart, deep within your soul , what does it mean during those late nights alone with your thoughts, what does it mean as you go about your daily life , what does it mean in your times of joy and of sorrow, what does it mean when we stand here today sharing with one another the ancient words of resurrection

 "He is Risen! "

“He is risen indeed!”

What does it mean? How do we respond, when we are on our own, when there is no preacher to prompt us, no congregation to remind us of what to say and when to say it? When that call comes, do you pause whatever you are doing and respond?

"He is Risen."

“He is Risen indeed.”

Do you find comfort in those words or do you find yourself waiting another beat for the cosmic response of “April Fools!?” Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if you did.  The events leading up to and surrounding this day are difficult, we are being asked to believe that a badly beaten man, who suffered death in the most horrific way possible is now no longer dead but has somehow escaped a well- sealed tomb and is headed for Galilee very much alive. It’s a lot to believe, but we are Easter people and so we wrestle with what it means to us and to the world. 

He is Risen

He is Risen indeed!

Mark is perhaps the most interesting and maybe the hardest of the gospels to read on Easter morning.  In Mark’s telling, on the third day, the women return to the tomb to finally fully prepare Jesus’s body for entombment.  They are greeted by a rolled away stone, a man dressed in white and the words “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. 7 Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.”  Words of assurance that assure no one. Instead, the women are overcome with terror and dread and they flee, and they say nothing because they are afraid.

The original writings of Mark’s gospel end here.  There is no meeting of the beloved teacher in the garden, no sighting of a risen Lord.  And  I think that Mark does that on purpose, he is challenging us here, challenging our faith, challenging us to believe because we know, to believe because we have been walking with Jesus all of this time, to believe because we have heard the words and understand the teaching, to believe because we know that Jesus is the Son of God and we don’t need no stinking empty tombs to prove that to us.  But somewhere, in the back of our minds aren’t we wondering if this isn’t some crazy, elaborate April Fool’s, some intricate knock, knock joke? What is the reality?  The tomb is empty, Jesus is not here, what does that mean?

I have to imagine that the early believers were wondering the same things.  Not that it was a walk in the park traveling the Judean countryside with Jesus as he was preaching and teaching for the past three years, but now they realize that that was the easy part.  Jesus was there in person walking every step of the way with them, and now it appears that he is gone, and they have to figure out what that means.  What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ if he is not there in front of them? If he is not here in front of us?

I am going to say something this morning that may sound odd to you—the power of Easter is not whether you intellectually agree with the gospels. The power of Easter is not found in whether you think Jesus walked from the tomb or was taken from the tomb. The power of Easter, the power raging through this day of celebration, throughout the history of humankind, throughout the ministry of the Church, is not the power of intellectual agreement…It is the power of the resurrection itself, it is the power of faith, present in the lives of those who follow Christ.

This past week in Bible Study we discussed the resurrection stories and talked about what the resurrection meant.  Ron Dobson said it best...Resurrection is about new life, new creation, new beginnings.  I would take it one step further to add, through the power of God.  Resurrection is the power of God giving us a new beginning, allowing us every day to be newly created, inviting us into a new life where Jesus is alive, and God is always present.!

Luke Timothy Johnson author of The Real Jesus writes: "The Christian claim concerning the resurrection of Jesus is not that he picked up his old manner of life, but rather that after death he entered into an entirely new form of existence, one in which he shared the power of God and in which he shared that power with others. The resurrection experience, then, is not simply something that happened to Jesus but is equally something that happened to Jesus’ followers. The sharing in Jesus’ new life through the power of the Holy Spirit is an essential dimension of the resurrection."  There it is…new life through the power of resurrection.  Our new life and our power! I wonder what it would be like if we proclaimed loudly:

We are Risen

We are Risen indeed!

THAT my friends is the power of Easter!

The power of Easter comes as Jesus is raised to a new way of life, and then, in a miraculous fashion, shares that new way of life with us.

He is risen; it is not some elaborate April Fool’s Joke, and those of us who follow Christ, who give ourselves to him and seek to live as his friends and family left in this world, we get to share the resurrection life too.

 “He is Risen”

 “He is risen, indeed!”

Because he is risen, we share in his new existence. We are an Easter people. For us to be an Easter people means that more than the day of celebration, it is the promise of new life that counts. It is the daily realization that the very power of God which raised Jesus from the dead is also the very same power which flows in and through us as followers of the Risen Jesus To be an Easter people means that even as the long dark nights come, even as the daily grind wears at us, even as the tugs and bumps of the problems of each day come our way, we know that it is not our own strength which sustains us. It is not our own wisdom and cunning on which we must depend. It is not by our own wits and resources that we struggle to survive.

He is risen means that when the echo comes down the hallways of the workplace, through the silent nights of worry in hospital rooms, through the grief of funeral parlors and cemeteries; when the echoes come from all those who surround us in the great cloud of witnesses, we who are Easter people will know how to respond.

Knock knock

Who’s there?

He Is

His is who

He is Risen.

"He is Risen, indeed"