A sermon preached by the Rev. Linda Harriso
Easter Sunday; April 21, 2019
Isaiah 65:17-25; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24: Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18
Icon painting of a rocky terrain where Mary Magdalene, wearing red and head circled in a nimbus, is kneeling at the feet of the risen Christ also with head circled by a nimbus that is insccribed in Greek with initials for Christ that stands for “He who is".  Depicted in the background is an open cave with an open casket holding empty burial clothes.

From the Gospel of John, paraphrased: The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd, who calls them by name and leads them out because they know the voice of the shepherd … I am the Good Shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me (3.3-4, 14). 

“I know my own and my own know me.” 

Magdelena peers into the tomb, overcome with grief, preparing to honor her rabbi in death.  Disbelief floods her.  As her mind adjusts to what her eyes are seeing, panic envelopes her.  The burial clothes are just lying there … empty … the body is gone!  Mary is beside herself. 

We know what has happened but put yourself in Mary’s sandals.  She is shocked and confused, distraught and reeling from the events of the last two days.  It wasn’t supposed to end this way …  and now this!  Someone has stolen the body of their beloved rabbi. 

Angels in the tomb ask why she is weeping.  They also know what has happened, and yet they say nothing about it.  Do they think the answer is obvious?  Are they genuinely perplexed by her weeping?  Is the question to jog her memory that Jesus had said?  Or must Mary encounter the risen Christ herself? 

Overcome with a grief that cannot be named, perhaps also filled with terror, she turns and bumps into a gardener.  But we know it is not a gardener.  And the gardener asks her the same question the angels asked, “Why are you weeping?”.  This gardener also asks for whom she is looking; the very same question Jesus asked at the beginning of his ministry of two strangers who were following after Jesus.  They had been disciples of John the Baptist.  Jesus called to them and they became the first disciples. 

“I know my own and my own know me.” 

“For whom are you looking?”  Gulping for air through racking sobs, she asks, “Where have you taken the body of my Lord?”  

… Mary hears her name called … realization replaces distress.  Tears of grief and confusion turn to tears of bewildered joy. 

“I know my own and my own know me.” 

She is known and now she knows.  Magdelena knows and she is commanded and commissioned to witness to that knowledge.  The risen Christ sends Magdalena – as a disciple and an apostle – to witness to this unexpected, unbelievable, incredible, and glorious event.   And Mary proclaims to the others, “I have seen the Lord!” 

The first to see the risen Christ; the first to proclaim the risen Christ as Lord.  Mary is known and comforted.  Mary is known and commissioned. 

At this table of our Sovereign and Savior, you are known.  The risen Christ calls you by name.  Embrace being known, be comforted; proclaim to all the world and to those who may not yet know that the Sovereign One of Love, the One who loves One’s own to the very end, is indeed risen and knows and cares for each of us! 

Alleluia!  Christ is risen! 

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