It All Began With a Stone — The Vicar’s Easter Sermon

Easter Day
April 5, 2015
The Advocate
Lisa G. Fischbeck

It all began with a stone.

The story of the resurrection didn’t begin with Jesus appearing to five thousand people and all of them believing. Shazzam!
No.
The story of the resurrection unfolded,
it emerged, in fits and starts over time.
It emerges still.

And it began with Mary Magdelene early in the morning,
going to the tomb where Jesus had been placed.
And the first sign she had that something different was going on
that things weren’t as everyone had expected
was that the stone used to seal the tomb to block the entrance,
had been pushed aside.
Some would say, “rolled away”.

She saw that stone,
and without staying to find out more,
to figure out more,
to hear or see more,
Mary took the information she had and ran and shared it with the others.

And the story unfolds from there.
The details are wonderful.

Peter and another disciple, presumably John,
ran to the tomb.
John ran a little faster and got there first.
Bending down, he looked inside,
something Mary Magdelene had not yet done,
and he saw the cloths that had been wraparound Jesus’ body for burial,
and the cloth that had been placed on his head.
But no Jesus.

Peter finally got there, and went straight into the tomb.
He, too, saw the cloths.
Then, perhaps emboldened by Peter’s courage,
John went into the tomb, too.
Scripture says he saw, and believed.
Though just what he believed isn’t made clear.

John and Peter returned home,
but Mary Magdelene lingered by the tomb.
And she wept.
She wept because she still believed that the body of Jesus had been taken away by some who might not care.
Then, she saw, first two angels who asked her why she was weeping,
then Jesus himself, standing there – though she mistook him for a gardener.
Mary did not know it was Jesus until he called her by name.

The resurrection made plain to her, more or less,
Mary Magdelene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord”
and the resurrection story continued to unfold.

It continued to unfold in the days and weeks that followed.
The resurrected Christ appeared fist in one place, then another.
Some believed without seeing,
others needed to see for themselves.
It continues to unfold in the centuries ahead,
as Christians understood, and did not understand
the power and mystery of that resurrection event
in their lives and in the life of the world.
It is a story that continues to unfold today,
in the Church,
in the world,
in your heart, if you will let it.

Which brings me back to the stone.
Some would say that when they think of Easer, they think of a bunny rabbit.
Others would point to other fertility symbols and signs of Spring
Symbols of now and beautiful life,
springing forth out of the ordinary and the plain, out of the seemingly dead –
butterflies, flowers, and the like.
Christians might think of the empty cross,
or of a cross with flowers on it.
The instrument of shameful death, transformed into….
something else.

But I want us all, in the midst of all those other things,
to think about the stone.
Not as a symbol of the resurrection itself.
But as a means of reminding us to open ourselves to the journey,
to persevere with the understanding and knowing and embracing
that life-changing, world-shifting, reality-jolting event.

If we want to persist with an Easter bunny,
perhaps in addition to the jelly beans and fertility symbols,
the Easter bunny might start delivering geodes!
Stones that look like one thing, pain enough.
But on closer inspection,
and with a bit of perseverance and some hard knocks,
reveal entire dimensions, more glorious still.

For the stone in the Easter story reminds us
that there is more going on in this resurrection event than any of us first can grasp or understand.
The stone reminds us
that with God there are possibilities beyond our logic,
beyond our wisdom,
beyond our puny known world.
The stone reminds us
that in the midst of death we are in life.

And because that is so non-sense- ical,
or perhaps because it is so very glory-ous.
sometimes, all we can do to carry the story along…..
is dance:
Christ is risen from the dead
trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tombs
bestowing life.

Alleluia!