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Who Are You Looking For?

Who Are You Looking For?

Easter Sunday 2022

Acts 10:36-43

John 20:1-18

When it comes to Easter Sunday, we all have certain expectations, right? We’ve gathered together in this place, this Sanctuary... expecting to experience, to hear, certain things. We expect to hear of a stone rolled away… of angels with grand proclamations… and even grander revelations!

Some of us anticipate singing, or hearing, certain hymns... many have the tradition of dressing up, maybe in new Easter outfits... and spending some time with our families around the dinner table... maybe an egg hunt or two. There’s a comfortable rhythm to our Easter routine, that we’ve come to expect.

Of course, we’ve heard the story time and again… so much so that we sometimes get lulled to sleep by it familiarity! Which actually makes preaching Easter messages challenging. Kinda like when someone new sings an old familiar song that we know by heart… and we find ourselves comparing the new version to the one we know so well. Remakes, or “covers” are seldom as good as the original. Not that it’s a pastor’s job to offer us something new, or better... but, rather to help us hear the Message... the familiar, old, old, story, in a new way. With a fresh perspective, and renewed understanding.

So maybe, today… instead of breaking down and dissecting the various parts of Resurrection story… maybe we should take those elements, those revelations (that we’re so familiar with), and look at ourselves, to see if we can see the Good News of the living Christ, being practically and relevantly “lived out” in our everyday lives.

Think about Mary for just a moment… She got up early in the morning, when it was still dark... still dark outside no doubt… but it was just as dark in her personal life.

Mary was shrouded in the darkness of grief. And as she made her way to the tomb, she immediately noticed the stone had been rolled away... so she looked inside, and Jesus was not there. Mary assumes, through her grief, and her despondency, that someone must’ve stolen his body (but then, I’m sure most of us would have thought the same). So she ran back to the other disciples with the news. And upon hearing what Mary had to say, Peter and John made their way to the tomb, to check it out... to verify Mary’s tale. And when they peeked inside, they saw the very same thing Mary saw. Jesus was not there. And so they walked away without the hope of seeing the risen Christ.

Of course, Mary lingered at the tomb... to weep and to grieve... still shrouded in darkness. In fact, she was so overcome by grief that when Jesus stood right in front of her, she didn’t even recognize him. She thought he was a gardener.

Mary failed to recognize the risen Christ, despite the fact that she was one of his closest friends, and most dedicated followers. This is the same Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, having been restored, from death to life, Jesus delivered her from her own demons. It’s the same Mary who supported Jesus’ ministry... following him along his journey... soaking up his teachings. Mary clearly had faith in Christ. There’s no doubt about that! She believed. She was a disciple.

Yet, in her darkness - she still couldn’t see Jesus, even though he was right in front of her.

And I think in this moment, you and I can most relate, to this story. Because we’ve all felt the same, at some point in our life. The most faithful, and dedicated Christians I’ve ever known, at some point, have been so overcome by grief and despair in this life, that they’ve struggled to see Jesus in their midst. Be it a personal loss, like the death of a spouse, the death of a good friend, the loss of a child… our grief can be so deep, our pain so sharp, so vivid, so tangible, so overwhelming, that we can’t see the living Christ standing right in front of us.

But then, Jesus spoke her name... he revealed himself to Mary. He spoke into her grief and despair and hopelessness. And his simple, comforting, reassuring voice... his Word... changed everything.

Of course, after Mary realized that this was actually Jesus in front of her... she cried out to him! And she got up from where she was and she ran to the other disciples with the news that she had seen the Lord, that he was alive… That he was in the midst of her grief and her pain and her despondency. And before long they would realize the full impact of her words.

The truth is: Jesus is still, right here. He’s in our presence... having gifted us with his Spirit. There’s no place we can go... no experience... no joy, no pain or grief in this life... where Jesus isn’t right beside us.

The real question is - the very question that Jesus asked Mary, before she recognized him: who (or what) are we looking for?

If you’re looking for, or expecting grief, and disappointment, and fear (in this life)... you’ll find, it no doubt - it’s there, it’s always there.

But... if you’re looking for light, and hope, and life... you’ll find it... once you’ve recognized Jesus is your Risen Lord... because He’s always there, too.

Expect to hear his voice, Christian! Listen for his voice. Listen to his Word. He’s calling your name. He’s right here...

He’s alive! He is risen! Glory to God! Amen!

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