Sermon for March 27, 2016-Sunrise

A Sermon from the North Yarmouth Congregational Church
A sermon offered by the Rev. Nancy J. White in the public worship of the First Congregational Church of North Yarmouth, UCC of North Yarmouth, Maine at Easter Sunrise Worship on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Principal reading John 20:1-18

Someone they loved had died.
Someone they loved had been tortured. Someone they loved had been humiliated and shamed before all the crowds gathered for the Passover feast. Someone they loved had died.
Their Lord had died.

I imagine Mary Magdalene was exhausted,
drained from the emotional turmoil of the last few days. In her anguish, in her pain, all she wanted to do was to properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial. When she arrived at the tomb, the stone had been removed. So she ran to the disciples explaining that Jesus had been taken. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb and saw for themselves that indeed his body was gone and in distress and confusion they returned home.

But Mary stayed weeping and as she looked into the tomb, two angels asked her ‘woman, why are you weeping?’ She told them that her Lord had been taken. As she turned, she saw the gardener and asked him, where have they taken the body of my Lord? He turned to her and said Mary and she knew – raboni!
It was him – breathing and walking and he said her name – she saw him – he is alive! And she ran to tell the others – I have seen the Lord! He is alive!

Can you imagine it? She has been in the deepest despair and now grief is turned to joy – everything had changed. She rushed to tell everyone what she had seen.

He spoke her name and she saw Jesus!
She saw Jesus himself. She saw our risen Lord! How that must have felt! What joy must have filled her whole body. Someone she loved had died and now he was alive again! Her Lord was alive! She saw him, she heard him speak. He was alive!
That was then – more than 2000 years ago. Can we have that same joy? Can we hear him? Can we see him? Can the joy of seeing our resurrected Lord be ours today just as it was when Mary first saw him?

Jesus has told us that whatever we do for the least of his children, we do for him. We find Christ’s presence in the everyday, in the least of his children. The answer to the disciples as they asked “When Lord?” is the same for us today.

I was hungry and you gave me food.
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
I was naked and you gave me clothing.
I was sick and you took care of me.
I was in prison and you visited me.

The question has already been asked and answered. Our greatest hope is in Christ’s death and resurrection – we will live forever with our Lord. And that forever begins now! We can see Jesus just as Mary did on that very first Easter morning.

What unbelievable joy is ours as we see Jesus whenever we take care of the least of God’s children. This is a gift God gives us now, this day; the joy of Christ’s resurrection is ours if we accept it. Someone in need is Christ in need – take care of someone in need and take care of Christ. At work, at school, in the grocery store, look into the faces of the people around you…and …

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

It’s Easter morning.
Look for Jesus, He is alive!

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