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John 20:1-18

The Rev. Jon Roberts

12 April


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Mag′dalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; 5 and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, 7 and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo′ni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 18 Mary Mag′dalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.


”Touch me not” The appearance of Jesus Christ to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Ivanov, 1835

Easter is born upon arrival
With Christ calling us into a great revival.[1]

Typically, on Easter Sunday the church is full to capacity with an abundance of young and old, who are called into the moment of Jesus’ resurrection. The children love surprises and they want to hear the story. They want to know about Mary who discovered the empty tomb. They want to share in her expression of what was lost but now is found. It is central to the Gospel and maybe that is why they love to search for Easter eggs after Communion.

We are all feeling a bit of loss these days, with the scourge of a pandemic that hints of death and gloom.
That is why it would be most appropriate to share a modern poet’s own words about all of this and how it relates to this particular Easter. Her name is Kristi Bothur, and with a certain nod of approval from Dr. Seuss, this free- lance author wrote the following piece for this Easter. The poem is called, “How the Virus Stole Easter”

Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began;
Bringing chaos and fear to all people, each land.
People were sick, hospitals full,
Doctors overwhelmed, no one in school.

As winter gave way to the promise of spring
The virus raged on, touching peasant and king.
People hid in their homes from the enemy unseen.
They YouTubed and Zoomed, social-distanced, and cleaned.

April approached and churches were closed.
“There won’t be an Easter,” the world supposed.
“There won’t be church services, and egg hunts are out.
No reason for new dresses when we can’t go about.”

Holy Week started, as bleak as the rest.
The world was focused on masks and on tests.
“Easter can’t happen this year,” it proclaimed.
“Online and at home, it just won’t be the same.”

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the days came and went.
The virus pressed on; it just would not relent.
The world woke Sunday and nothing had changed.
The virus still menaced, the people, estranged.

“Pooh pooh to the saints,” the world was grumbling.
“They’re finding out now that no Easter is coming.
“They’re just waking up! We know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
And then all the saints will all cry boo-hoo.

“That noise,” said the world, “will be something to hear.”
So it paused and the world put a hand to its ear.
And it did hear a sound coming through all the skies.
It started down low, then it started to rise.

But the sound wasn’t depressed.
Why, this sound was triumphant!
It couldn’t be so!
But it grew with abundance!

The world stared around, popping its eyes.
Then it shook! What it saw was a shocking surprise!
Every saint in every nation, the tall and the small,
Was celebrating Jesus in spite of it all!

It hadn’t stopped Easter from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the world with its life quite stuck in quarantine
Stood puzzling and puzzling.
“Just how can it be?”

“It came without bonnets, it came without bunnies,
It came without egg hunts, cantatas, or money.”
Then the world thought of something it hadn’t before.
“Maybe Easter,” it thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Easter, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

And what happened then?
Well....the story’s not done.
What will YOU do?
Will you share with that one?

Or two or more people needing hope in this night?
Will you share the source of your life in this fight?
The churches are empty - but so is the tomb,
And Jesus is victor over death, doom, and gloom.

So this year at Easter, let this be our prayer,
As the virus still rages all around, everywhere.
May the world see hope when it looks at God’s people.
May the world see the church is not a building or steeple.

May the world find Faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection,
May the world find Joy in a time of dejection.
May 2020 be known as the year of survival,
But not only that -
Let it start a [great] revival.

To give credit to where credit is due, Mrs. Bothur is not only a wife, mother, educator, blogger, and freelance writer, but she knows a thing or two about losing someone you love. She has seven children - two on Earth and five in Heaven and she and her husband Eric founded Naomi's Circle, a faith-based pregnancy and infant loss ministry, as a result of walking the road of first and second trimester pregnancy loss. She is also the editor of the ebook devotional Rainbows and Redemption. We should thank her for her creativity and giving great relevance to this Easter Sunday.

This poem is reminder that, Easter is born upon arrival
And Jesus calls us into a great revival.

A lot of people are praying today and a lot of people are learning to trust in God by applying their faith. They can relate. And I do believe, as I have been told that God makes new that which was old. Like Mary who came to an empty tomb, we discover that God can surprise us, and fill an empty room. What is Jesus calling us to do on Easter Sunday? Is it to come out and enjoy festive songs, to wear our finest suit or dress? Or is it to join the chorus of heaven, letting God clean up the mess? It is precisely a new birth, when Jesus surprises you by meeting you at a place that you thought was shut tight; a place you couldn’t open with all of your might. The outward and visible signs are still there, even though we cannot be in the same place. Easter occurs every Sunday; every time we meet to make a Seder, putting our lives in order by receiving Christ’s body and blood.

On this day, pray and sing aloud for Easter to be born in you upon arrival; Follow Jesus who is calling you into a great revival.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts

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