Readings for Easter Sunday, 4/8/07:
Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26, John 20:1-18, or Luke 24:1-12
- Peter is speaking to Cornelius and his friends and relatives in Caesarea. Cornelius had been visited by a messenger from God telling him to invite Peter to his home and here him speak.
- "God shows no partiality". Do we get that? Believe it? Preach it? Live and practice it?
- "preaching peace by Jesus Christ" Ah, the gospel message is a message of peace. Too much of our Christian history works to counter that claim. We struggle on!
- A mini-sermon, all the facts needed to share the good news packed into one little blurb - this is Peter's quick pitch, at the opportunity he's been given.
- Note that this is virtually the same selection from Psalms as on Palm Sunday, with slightly different verses. Included in Easter's reading, but not in Palm Sunday's: "the Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death." Hm. I don't like to think about God punishing us. But the verse's significance on Easter is powerful. The cup was not taken from Jesus - he drank it. And yet, he lives.
- Even still, it's hard to focus on any scripture passage on Easter Sunday other than the gospel lesson of the Resurrection, isn't it?
- "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." A striking statement. I'm not sure how to react - I guess I don't exactly share Paul's perspective. I think we're so wrapped up in thinking about what awaits us after this earthly life, that we forget what Christ means for us right now, on earth. My hope for Christ in this life is powerful stuff!
- "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." I'm a big fan of John Cobb and process theology. I remember reading that for process theologians, some could not get over the "ultimate evil of personal death." Conceptions of afterlife are tricky things. How can death be destroyed for you? When I was younger, I used to ask my pastor/mentor, Rev. Bruce Webster, if heaven wouldn't be a boring place. He, a math major in college, could draw some sort of graph to show it would be ok!
- I have to admit, as a woman, I get a kick out of the way the men behave here, versus the way Mary Magdalene acts. The men run there, almost competitively, after hearing Mary's report, and then they return home, apparently not too impressed or curious to figure out what's going on. It's Mary who is there to begin with to care for the tomb, Mary who sheds tears for Jesus, Mary who remains at the tomb long enough to encounter the risen Christ, Mary who is the first to spread the good news. You go girl!
- "Rabbouni!" What would you say if you had a change to come face to face with a lost loved one again?
- I just can't let loose of the sense of the importance of Mary staying at the tomb. She is honest with her emotions, and holds still, stays in place, soaks it in. She gets to see Jesus, the fruits of her devotion. Don't hurry through Easter, but rest at the empty tomb!
- I do like John's account of the resurrection better: we have Mary's solo journey to the tomb, which seems so precious and personal, and we have her encountering Jesus himself, not God's messengers.
- Do notice that even in Luke, Peter is rushing to the tomb, and returns home when he sees the empty tomb.
- Is Luke, and earlier account, more accurate than John's? What does it mean for John to show Jesus at the tomb? Perhaps he is connecting the dots for us. Either way, the point is the same: the empty tomb means that life wins out over death. Nothing could stop the work of Jesus, the message he preached, his life that is carried on in us.