Sunday, 16 April 2006

Anointing Jesus and Rolling Stones Away: a Sermon for Easter Sunday with Reference to Mark 16:1-8

1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body.

What do we bring that we might anoint Jesus this morning? What, for us, would be the equivalent of the spices these women bought for Jesus? Are we bringing anything? Or are we here to take. What might Jesus want from us?

Our committed presence.

I think of my mother. I don’t see her very often. She’s ten thousand miles away in New Zealand, but I talk to her on the phone every few weeks (as I write that, I’m thinking, it should be more). What does she want from me?

My presence. To hear my voice. To know I love her. To spend time. To hang out. That’s it. Often. More than once or just a few times a year. She also wants to tell me she loves me. To encourage me. To share her wisdom with me. To tell me what my brothers and sisters are up to. To let me know when they are going through a rough patch, or to celebrate when the good stuff happens.

Same with Jesus.

2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

What stones are blocking our entrance to Jesus? Hurts from the past? Something some one in the church said or did, or didn’t say or do? I prayed for something and He didn’t give me what I wanted?

Busy-ness can be a pretty big stone. Sports are huge. So are spouses or friends that aren’t interested in Jesus.

Some of those stones are pretty big.

4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

Stones, even very large ones, can be rolled away. How? Worship is an amazingly powerful stone-roller. Just coming to church—despite the music we might not like, the person who gets in our face—perhaps even especially when we’re struggling with such things—gets stones rolling. Prayer is a good stone remover. Offerings move stones.

So you decide to go to church. Perhaps even on Easter morning.

5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

O no. I’m going to be made to feel guilty.

6"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!

Here’s where the analogy breaks down this morning.

He is not here. See the place where they laid him.

I say He is here. He is Risen and He is alive and He is right here. He loves you. He is delighted that you’re here.

7But go, said the young man dressed in white, tell his disciples and Peter,

He doesn’t want us to spend all our time here. We don’t have disciples and Peter to tell. We have family members and friends to tell.

What can I say?

You know, I went to church this morning and I enjoyed it, or I didn’t enjoy it, but there is something about this Jesus and I really felt touched so I thought I’d come, or have you over, to spend some time and tell you how much I appreciate you.

Or, something a woman I know, who started coming to church all of a sudden out of the blue, said about her experience of Jesus: “I received my most precious, treasured friend who fills me with joy and peace.”

It can be as simple as that. But then…

8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Don’t be afraid. Roll the stone that’s blocking your path to those family members and friends away. Jesus loves the people you love. And remember this:

'He is going ahead of you into those encounters. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

He is going ahead of you to all those encounters you will have—especially the ones you intentionally do for Him.

The fact is, through your presence, in the name of Jesus, others will experience true “moments of grace”—encounters with the living Lord which they would not otherwise experience.

He is Risen! He will be with you wherever you go.

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