I have seen the Lord!

John 20:18         18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

You know, this story is a bit outrageous.  I think we all know, though, that truth is stranger than fiction.  These people didn’t quite know what to do with this information.  They were lost and broken just a few days before.  Peter was ashamed of acknowledging Jesus as his friend and then ashamed for being ashamed.  And then Jesus died.  Just up and died and left them all alone. 

We all know what it’s like to be left alone.  There are moments in all of our lives when despair, rage, grief have overtaken us.  Life comes at us full force, head on and there is no avoiding the sledgehammers of experience that can almost kill us.  There is no denying that life is hard, even in the best of times.  There is no denying that we sit outside a tomb and grieve.

Mary stays put, grieving, and is rewarded.  Jesus speaks to her and through her tears she awakens to new realities.  JESUS IS ALIVE!  And he tells her to go and tell the others.  And she does!  “I HAVE SEEN THE LORD!”

“I have seen the Lord!”  We gather here this morning in celebration of this resurrection morning.  Since that first Sunday when Mary proclaimed the good news, disciples have continued to gather on Sunday mornings – an unbroken line of triumph, of joy, of resurrection, of the bold proclamation, “We have seen the Lord!” 

Somehow, someway, someday, something happens.  We peek inside the tomb, and there is a miracle.  Somehow, God can reach inside of us, fill our hearts with peace and joy and the miraculous news that Christ is alive.  This truth wells up within us and permeates our very being.  We are indeed born again!  We are indeed taking a step to live closely with our God Creator, our Christ Redeemer, and our Spirit Comforter.  Whether a growing in faith through a life’s journey or a moment of astounding change we each in our own way have “seen the Lord!”  And it changes us, it informs the way we live.

In Acts, this same Peter who huddled in a room confused and scared says in Acts 10 “God shows no partiality … Jesus Is Lord of all … He rose from the dead … Everyone who believes receives forgiveness through his name.”  A far cry from the guy who scurried back to town to hide!

BE BOLD

Peter and Mary show us that being awakened to faith to the wonder of who Jesus Christ is frees us all to a life of boldness!  You matter!  You have value!  All your quirky ways, your special interests, your talents you realize are gifts of God who makes you uniquely you.  This cross represents where your failings and sins have been traded for

Joy instead of sorrow
Freedom instead of failure
Yes instead of no.

That is reason for boldness, for passion, for living out loud, for celebrating who you are in Christ Jesus.

Take a deep breath and relish what Christ has done for you!  That life of growing, knowing and sowing is yours.  Growing in grace and delight, knowing your God who loves you and continuing to explore the mysteries of faith, and sowing seeds of the good news wherever you are, wherever you go, because who you are in Christ preaches without you even knowing it – you sow through the transformation that God has begun in your life.  Isn’t it amazing!

Awake, rise up and bless the Lord!  Be bold!

BE STRONG

Be strong.  It took a while for the disciples to get their strength in the faith.  It took the breath of God, the continued growth in understanding Jesus’s teachings to awaken to that new life. 

Just as surely as Easter is a new understanding of life and living life out loud, it is indeed the breath and life that God is faithful to impart to use that gives us strength and stamina for this journey.  Have you seen the Lord?  Have you experienced the move of God in your life?  Is that resurrection morning as true for you today as it was for Mary and the disciples?  Is it?

Is it?  Awaken again to the joy of Easter morning!  Rise up and bless the Lord!  Be strong!  For the Lord thy God is with you! 

The Lord is with You

If you are looking into the empty tomb and wondering what it means – hear this:

Jesus died out of love for you.  He preached life and love and closeness to God.  He cared about everyone.  And then he was crucified.  But death cannot contain such love.  Death has no sting.  Jesus rises and raises us with him – not just for eternity, beloved, but for today.  Jesus raises us up from the ashes of our failures and our sins, our inadequacies and our fears to tell us again and again that God created us because God loves us. 

Live with boldness, awakened to life in Christ.  Life in strength, with the power of God sustaining you, awakening you to new possibilities.  Live!  Fully, wholly, complete – for the Lord your God is with you.

If you need resurrecting in your faith this day, look at the empty cross, the empty tomb, and the new life of possibility.  Our Lord is risen.  What a wonder!

We must recognize that we are forgiven, beautiful, accepted and much loved by Christ.  We must not sell ourselves short on what he might have for us.  When we walk in that knowledge, our service to others becomes less about who we are, what we have to offer, and more about what does Christ want from me – right now?  How do I respond to that empty tomb?

Be bold.  Be strong. The Lord is with you.    Go and tell the news and live out your faith so that your life story says:  “I have seen the Lord.”