April 16, 2006
The Gospel: Mark 16:1-8
Sermon: "Easter Day 2006"
The Rev. William D. Oldland
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. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 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. 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." 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.
Easter Day 2006
Easter Sunday - April 16, 2006
Over the years I have taken a series of different tests described as personality indicators. These tests help give insight into how we collect information, how we process it, where we get our energy from and how we like to order our lives. These tests can be very helpful to someone who is looking to find out more about themselves or why they react in certain ways to the world around them.
One such test is the Myers-Briggs test. It has four parameters that do what I just described above. One parameter is described as the N or S factor. This factor describes how we collect information. It really looks at how we absorb information from the world around us. The letter N stands for intuitive. An intuitive person primarily gathers information through their feelings. They feel good about something they have heard or they feel negative about something they have read. They meet someone and they just have a kind of feeling about them. Now, the S letter stands for sensate. An S person primarily gathers information through the senses. It's real if I can see it, touch it, hear it, feel it or taste it. Both ways of gathering information are acceptable. A person is not simply one way or the other. Everyone has some part of both ways of gathering information. Most of us use one method more often than the other.
Now, what is interesting is that both of these are used in Mark's story of the resurrection. They had to be and I'll show you how. First, let's look back to the burial in the story for just a moment. According to the account Joseph of Arimathea had claimed the body and taken it for burial and placed it in a grave. Following him to the gravesite that early evening was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus. They saw the gravesite and they saw the stone rolled across to seal the grave. So they know where the grave is located and that is has been sealed with a heavy stone. In fact, they know they can't move it.
Now, on the morning of the third day, they, along with Salome, went to anoint the body with spices. They were walking along and trying to determine how they might get into the tomb. They knew they could not roll away the stone by themselves. Yet, when they arrive at the gravesite the stone is not in the way. Here is where the S factor comes into play. They see the stone has been rolled away from the tomb. They enter the tomb moving from the light into semi-darkness that they can see and feel. When they go inside they see a young man dressed in white. They hear him tell them about what has happened. Furthermore, they are commanded to go back and tell the disciples and Peter where Jesus will meet them. They are fearful and in awe. The N function just kicked in.
These three women have seen, heard, and felt information concerning the resurrection of Jesus. They sensed it and they felt it. They experienced what is called in the Bible an angelophany. They experienced a direct message to them by an angel of God. All through scripture people have heard the voice of God through angels in real life and in dreams. Even today, we know people who have felt that God has spoken to them through angels. They can't all be crazy. There must be something to it.
In fact, there had to be a great deal to it on the day of the resurrection. I say this because Mark says that after the women were told what to do, they ran out of the tomb because they were afraid. Mark also says they didn't tell anyone. Obviously they did.
Don't be alarmed by what I just said. I am not doubting the scriptures. I am also not saying anything about women versus men. Let's get real. They just saw an angel. Sure they were terrified for a while and they probably didn't say a word to anyone for sometime. However, there is no way they could keep it secret for long. A secret of that nature could only be kept completely quiet if two of them suddenly quit living.
Just so you know what I mean I want to give you two examples from real life. It was William's birthday. Our family tradition is that the celebrant gets to pick the restaurant for their birthday meal. William picked Macaroni Grille. We had a great dinner. There was a young lady going around singing. Of course, when she found out someone was celebrating a birthday she stopped and sang happy birthday in Italian for the birthday person. No one said a word about William's birthday until the waitress came over to begin clearing the table from the meal. Then Daniel just couldn’t hold it in any longer. He looked at the waitress, pointed to William, and proclaimed firmly and loudly, "It's his birthday." And the secret was out.
One Sunday a family came up to take communion here. As I leaned over to give one of the children communion he looked at me and said, Mommy and the rest of us are here, but daddy's playing golf. And the secret was out.
The women did go back at some point and tell the disciples. We don't know what they did when they heard the news in Mark's Gospel. Mark doesn't tell us. But from other evidence, they did what they were told. They saw Jesus and they started to tell the story. Something happened at that tomb that was absolutely incredible. It was so incredible and so wonderful that the disciples gave up everything to tell the world. They believed in the resurrection. They believed Jesus was the Messiah. They believed that God acted greatly for the sake of humanity and made resurrection a reality for us all. We have nothing to fear from sin and death. We have nothing to fear from the powers of this world. We have everything we need to believe in Jesus as the Christ. We have everything we need to believe in the resurrection. We have everything we need to believe in the incredible love of God. We have everything we need to believe and hope in Jesus the Christ.
The disciples believed something incredible happened at the tomb on that first Easter morning. They must have. Out of the eleven left, because Judas, had already died, there are some interesting facts. Five of them were fishermen. One was a tax collector, and one was a zealot. Two were believed to be related to Jesus in some way. The final two we don't know their full history. Of the eleven, only one survived to old age and that was John who was exiled. The other ten died for their belief in Jesus. Fishermen, tax collectors, and who knows what else believed something wonderful happened at that tomb. The Son of God, the Messiah, the One long awaited for, had risen on that day. They simply had to tell the story.
What do we say today? Alleluia, the Lord is Risen!! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!!!
In a few minutes, we are going to baptize three children into the faith of Christ lived, crucified and resurrected. We will stand with them, with their parents and with one another. As we stand we will say one of the oldest confessions of our faith, The Baptismal Covenant. It is the creed taken by all those who believe that something marvelous happened at that tomb so long ago. After we have said the creed and baptized these children the real work begins. We begin teaching them what Christ taught us. We teach them about the love of God and the love we are to share. We invite them to join us in the journey. We begin the journey with the ancient words, Alleluia, the Lord is Risen!! The Lord is Risen indeed!! Alleluia!!