Sunday, 8 April 2007

A Short Easter Day Sermon: the Women at the Tomb: Luke 24.1-12

1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
...notice it was the women. They were also watching when Jesus died. “Many” women, Matthew and Mark tell us in their gospels, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee ministering to him.

It’s interesting that there is no specific reference to men on Jesus’ team being there other than John's reference to the presence of the disciple Jesus loved (and that in the context of a woman, Jesus’ mother, and a new home for her). Luke refers to Jesus’ “acquaintances” which probably includes some guys. Perhaps their presence is just assumed.

And when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body down and laid it in the tomb Joseph had intended for himself, the women followed to see where and how his body was laid.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they were first to the tomb. When those women got there…
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus Christ had be raised from the dead and the women were the first witnesses of that fact—the first witnesses of the Resurrection.

After their encounter with the angels…
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
To be fair, the story they had to tell was a bit over the top.

So what is it about women and Jesus? Obviously they loved him. They ministered to him, we are told. It was a woman—a sinner says Luke; Mary, Martha’s and Lazarus’ sister says John—who anointed Jesus with that expensive ointment and wet his feet with her tears and wiped his feet with her hair.

The women are obviously very significant players in this part of the divine drama. Their presence must be something the LORD wants us to notice. So today we’re noticing.

They’re still here before anyone else…consider the Altar Guild women. Many of us men still tend not to believe them or take them seriously. Perhaps we’d better start before they show up for us with the spices and the embalming gear.

Which brings me to a thought about baptism; almost without exception, the babies who get baptized here get baptized mainly because of their mothers. We guys tend to be supporters…sometimes just humourers…of our women rather than initiators or active participants and if it were up to us, there’d be many fewer baptisms…not to mention weddings, but that’s a whole other thing.

So…this morning, in the name of the Risen and Exalted Lord Jesus, I want to honour the women…the ones who show up early to get things done and who continue minister to Jesus by bringing their children to be baptized into the family of God. In particular, I want to honour Rae-ann (and from the Vigil last night, Marsha and Wendy) and all the mothers without whom, I would venture to say, many of us would still be unbaptized. I want to honour all of you young mums who go through the rigamaroll, frustration, hard work and fatique…alone, many of you…of bringing your little ones to church so they can encounter the Risen Jesus. The Lord bless you, reward you and give you strength. You are an example to us all and you are worthy, not only of being listened to, but of being honoured for what you do. What you believe and what your hearts are calling you to do is not nonsense.

Gentlemen, honour the women this Easter Sunday. That we know and are celebrating that Jesus is risen today is due in no small part to their faithfulness and ministry among us.