Offered by Father Matthew Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County, on the Sunday of the Resurrection, Year A, 2017.
It is a great joy to share with you all in the heavenly peace brought into the world by Jesus Christ, on this the day of His resurrection. I want to welcome especially our visitors to this holy space on this most holy of occasions. It is a blessing to have you with us. You are always welcome to pray with us in worship of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And we invite you to pray for us, as this church and our sister church continue to discern in joy and humility the mission that God is calling us to perform in Tazewell County and in the world.
The Church as a whole—all two billion plus of us Christians alive today, along with the great cloud of witnesses of the faithfully departed along with the countless Christians yet to be come—is always on mission. Our mission is to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Right Hand of the Father—in the words of Saint Paul, to proclaim “that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Our mission indeed is to be alive to God in Christ Jesus — alive to God as He lives and moves and has His being in and through all of His creatures, both great and small.
Because He has ascended to the Father, He is available to us always and everywhere, to be praised, adored, worshiped and followed. He is available to us during our best moments, our “peak” moments on the mountaintop of joy and gladness. He is available to us in our darkest moments of pain, grief and anxiety, our “valley” moments when we feel the lowest of the low. And He is available to us in our every-day, mundane moments of normal life and normal routine and normal responsibilities and challenges. Indeed available to us so that in seeking Him, we may find Him, always and everywhere.
Today indeed there is harmony in the world, for over these last 24 hours or so, the Resurrection has been experienced the world over, all around the planet, timezone by timezone, diocese by diocese, church by church, altar by altar. The whole earth has been trembling—first at the crucifixion of God on the cross, because we were there when we crucified Him. And now the earth is trembling not in pain and grief but in joy and harmony at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the hard rock into a pool of water and flint-stone into a flowing spring of living water.
The stone has been taken away from the tomb. Brothers and sisters, the stone has been rolled away from the tomb not so Jesus can get out, but so that we might enter in. That we might enter more deeply into the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, incarnate from the Virgin Mary, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. This is the third day since Jesus became obedient unto death, even the death on a cross. Upon His death and laying into the tomb, the world of the disciples was a flood of bewilderment, confusion, and even despair.
Let us enter this mystery of the empty tomb through compassion for Saint Mary Magdalene, even imagining ourselves with her as she stood weeping outside the tomb—indeed a flood of tears. A man she supposes to be a gardener—indeed it is Jesus not yet known to be resurrected yet in His great love tending to His garden of disciples—says, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”—words that echo Jesus’s first words recorded by Saint John in the first chapter of his Gospel spoken to John the Baptist and other disciples, and words that have been echoing around the mind and memory of the Church ever since. “Whom do you seek?” Whom do we seek?
And to the weeping, sorrowful Mary, filled with desolation that comes from loving Jesus yet not yet made aware of His presence, indeed like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Saint Luke’s gospel, “kept from recognizing Him,” Jesus speaks tenderly, clearly and profoundly as only He can. He said to her, “Mary,” and she recognized Him. She recognized Him because He reminded her of who she was, saying her name as only He could. He only said a word, and her soul was healed.
Jesus tells us who we are, as well. We are people of His resurrection. We are born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. We are baptized into His body, to be forever members of His body. Brothers and sisters, let us ask for the intercessions of Saint Mary Magdalene, that with her we too might proclaim by word and example, indeed proclaim in all our lives, the simple, life-changing truth: “I have seen the Lord.” For only by Him are our lives healed; and only by Him are our lives made whole. Amen.