Sunday, April 4, 2021
Alleluia, Christ is risen! So what?
The Rev. Mark Wilkinson, Rector
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Katy TX 77493
Now that I have your attention let me say that again. So what? I’m serious, what difference does this make. A new outfit maybe a great hat at least women used to do the hat thing. Maybe this year a family get together with grandparents who have been vaccinated. If however Monday morning we go back to business as usual, what difference does it make. If nothing changes than Easter loses its meaning.
I ask this because each year I have a choice of Gospels to read. Either the gospel for that liturgical year in this case we are focusing on Mark or the version in John. If we were doing an Easter Vigil on Saturday I would have read the gospel from Mark and then the John gospel today. But I do have a choice with just Sunday morning and I read the familiar John gospel. Why? Well this has been such a year of disruption I wanted the full story, the wonderful story from John with Mary Magdalene going to the garden. Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, running almost like a race to get to the tomb. Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener until he calls he name. In a year like we have just gone through that someone said felt like it was Lent and never Easter we need Easter! We need the hope and excitement of Mary proclaiming “I have seen the Lord!” to the disciples.
That is not what we get in Mark. Most people do not know how radically different Mark’s gospel really is because they read it with the short or long ending added on. The version that Mark’s community heard ends abruptly. Mary Magdeline, Mary the mother of James and Salome go to the tomb. The are told by a man in white that Jesus is not there. They leave and say nothing to anyone because they were afraid. When the Tuesday morning bible study watched a dramatic telling of the gospel the storyteller ends it very abruptly as if the movie film had broken.
What this does however is present us with a choice. One gospel we have Mary telling everybody she has seen the Lord and in Mark the women flee in fear. BTW please note that Peter and the other disciple see the linen cloths rolled up and simply go home. They don’t say anything either. So what I ask again are you going to do when you leave here today? Which story ending will you follow?
What really started me on this line of thinking was Richard Rohr’s meditation on Good Friday. Now many of you know I’m a follower of Richard Rohr and his interpretation of how the cross saves us. But what I haven’t really emphasized is that the idea that Jesus came not to change God’s mind about us, but to change our minds about God is much, much older than Fr. Richard. John Duns Scotus another Franciscan was the first top propose this in the late 1200s and it became standard Franciscan theology. Friday Richard wrote
On the cross, the veil between the Holy and the unholy is torn and the “curtain of his body” becomes a “living opening” (Hebrews 10:20). We all can enter the Holy of Holies, which is the very heart of God. Nothing changed in heaven on Good Friday, but everything potentially changed on earth! (Richard Rohr Good Friday 2021)
Nothing changed in heaven, but everything potentially changed on earth. Think about that for a moment. Notice Richard said, potentially everything changed. Whether or not anything changes is up to us. On Easter we are the ones who are called to change. We are the ones who need to approach God in a different manner, one of love and not fear that so many people believe.
I turn back to my thoughts on Maundy Thursday for I feel the message that night is what is really important. At the end of the gospel from John on Maundy Thursday is the final commandment that Jesus give to the disciples. “I give you one more commandment. That you have love for one another. Just as I have loved you, you should have love for one another.” Then the a really important line, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” There it is. A commandment both simple and so very hard to actually live, but that’s the message we need to take out into the world.
Not a message of fear, but one of love. The love that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit show us each and every day without stop, even when we do not realize it. So do not leave these doors today and remain silent like the women. Do not hide behind locked doors for fear of what others may say. Do not just go home like Peter and the disciple that Jesus loved. Do not keep this good news to yourself. The world needs this message of love probably more now than at any time in the history of the world. We all need to follow the example of Mary Magdalene.
Again the real question today is so what. What will you do as you leave here today. Will you follow the final commandment of Jesus to love one another as he loves us? Remember he says, Everyone will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another. And the other isn’t just people we love and agree with. It is everyone.
A dismissal I heard at a service that was led by Bishop Curry is what really sums all this up. As you listen please notice that this is a command to go. I will use it later this morning but here it is:
Go forth in the Name of Christ:
Go into your own Neighborhoods.
Go into unknown lands and places.
Go where God’s name is well
Known and where it has yet to be known.
Go to those who welcome you and to whose who reject you.
Go forth into the world and share the
Good News of God’s love.
Alleluia, the Lord is risen. Now go spread the good news.