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John 20:1-18

This sermon was inspired by Karoline Lewis’ posting on workingpreacher.org in which she encouraged those of us who preach on Easter Sunday to, for once, avoid exposition, and focus on the experience. I am deeply indebted to her words and appreciate the opportunity to simply sit with the Spirit. You can find her entire post here

Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb, James Tissot

Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb, James Tissot

I have seen the Lord!

Mary’s pronouncement to the disciples may be the truest, most concise sermon ever. She doesn’t come running to proclaim that “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!” “Resurrection is not a third person confession but a first person testimony” (Lewis). It is the most profound event that we continue to relive and witness year after year, day after day.

I have seen the Lord!

It is an invitation.

It is an encouragement.

It is a promise.

I have seen the Lord!

In just over two weeks, there have been three major terrorist attacks in Ankara, Istanbul, and in Brussels. Our world is overwhelmed by violence and death. Yet Mary’s witness to an empty tomb and a risen Christ “is to point out resurrection in the midst of ruin; new life when all that seems visible is death; love in the face of hate” (Lewis).

I have seen the Lord!

As political campaigns ratchet up the hateful rhetoric and disgusting shows of bravado and bullying, to affirm the resurrection is to affirm “decency and goodness when that which is vitriolic and vile and vicious finds only more and more followers” (Lewis).

I have seen the Lord!

We don’t have to wave it on signs at football games.

We don’t have to shout it from the top of the mountain.

We don’t have to push it on people on the street corners.

“It doesn’t mean evangelism as coercion, competition, certainty, and beating the other down” (Lewis). In fact, the resurrection means partnership, cooperation, doubt, and lifting up others above ourselves.

I have seen the Lord!

It means that, in a world where we have come to believe that death is the end, that tombs, those containers for the dead, will on this day be empty, the stones rolled away.

It means that “resurrection is not only the promise of life after death, which, after all, would be enough, but also the assurance that the life-giving love of God will always move the stones away” (Lewis).

It means that those places and spaces of death that we are content with, “those dead places that fuel corruption, deception, racism, sexism, suspicion, rejection, marginalization, misogyny, judgment, and fear- God continues to roll those stones away that keep life at bay” (Lewis).

It means that death is truly overcome, and is no more.

I have seen the Lord!

These are words that speak into our lives today.

These are words that assert that the way of love will always triumph over the way of hate.

These are words that insist “that the truth of kindness can be heard over the din of ruthless, callous, and vindictive rhetoric… [words that] give witness to the fact that there is another way of being in the world- a way of being that is shaped by resurrection, that embodies anything and everything that is life-giving, a way of being that is so counter-cultural, so demonstrative of mercy, so exemplary of the truth of Easter that others will listen to you, watch you, wonder about you and say, ‘Wait a minute. Did I just see the Lord?’” (Lewis).

I have seen the Lord!

Of course, this truth doesn’t need our action or our witness or even our willingness. “The truth of the resurrection is true regardless of our testimony” (Lewis). But perhaps when we walk out of our churches on Easter morning willing to say, “I have seen the Lord,” the truth of those words will penetrate the dead spaces of our world. How willing are we “to look for where we can say, ‘I have seen the Lord’ in [our lives], or imagine those who might need us to say, ‘I have seen the Lord’ because they cannot. And why can’t they? Because they have known the walls of their tombs too long” (Lewis).

I have seen the Lord!

“True resurrection is the truth that the resurrection of Jesus indeed matters for our future, but even more so for our present, and for the sake of the present of others” (Lewis).

True resurrection means we leave our old selves here, at the foot of the cross, and live lives as redeemed people who have been made whole.

True resurrection shines through us in our words, our actions, and our love.

Have you seen the Lord?

I have seen the Lord in this place of joy. Amen.