Sermon Starter: Easter Sunday

April 10th, 2011

Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18

In the beginning.  These are, arguably, the best known words in the Bible.  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  (Genesis 1:1)  These are the words that call all creation into reality. God creates a world, an existence, out of the chaos of nothingness.  Light, dark, water, sky, plants, animals, humans—one by one, each element of creation is put into place. God declares the result “good” and begins living in relationship with creation. Within a short time, the story takes a dramatic turn and a different world comes into view.  Creation is broken.  The world as God intended is no more. 

The tension between what is and what is intended continues for hundreds of generations as believers struggle to live faithfully in relationship with God and the world.  And then the tension explodes. Mary Magdalene finds herself a front row observer to another creation-shattering event.  An event that ends her world as she has come to know it.  Her Messiah, Jesus Christ, is dead.  The broken world has taken the life of the one who has come to restore the world.

And so, on the “first day of the week,” Mary goes to the tomb. I imagine Mary Magdalene walking, in the dark, moved not by curiosity or anticipation, but with a sense of resigned duty to the ritual that would complete the burial of the man she had come to know and love as her Lord.  Her heart is a chaos of feelings brought on by a week of fear, disappointment, and confusion.  Jesus is dead?  Jesus is dead!  Three days after the Crucifixion, Mary struggles to get her head around the horrific turn of events. 

Today, though, is a new day for Mary Magdalene: the first day of a new week, a chance for her to complete her obligations and then move on with her life.  She doesn’t know that this day will offer events just as unexpected as the preceding days.  This first day of the week will bring indescribable joy to the friends and followers of Jesus Christ—joy that we still celebrate as we remember and honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the victory over death, and the promise of eternal life available to all.  

The day of Jesus’ resurrection is a new “in the beginning” as God begins a new creation out of the chaos of conflict and the nothingness of despair. The kingdom that Jesus had promised begins to come into view. The world as people knew it is no more. Through the Resurrection, the world begins its restoration. On this Easter morning, at this new beginning, God lovingly rebuilds the creation into its intended goodness, an act of grace that continues for us with each new day.

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