He Got Loose!

Easter  A:  He Got Loose

April 23-24, 2011

John 20:1-18

And so, once again, Easter happens…Easter happens!

Barbara Brown Taylor puts it this way:

We tried to nail him down once…but Jesus got loose.

The question for us to think about today is –

“So what?”

“What difference does it make?”

Because surely God intended it to make a difference!

Surely God intended the resurrection to mean something

— not just after we’ve died –

but mean something today, now.

Something is very different here today.

Some of it is easy to see.

There are a few more flowers than usual.

There are a few more candles than usual.

And yes, there are a few more people than usual!

Things are different all around us today…

But the resurrection promise,

is that something is different within us as well.

Jesus Christ is no longer confined to a tomb in some garden inJerusalem,

but loose to the world, for the world, and in us.

So what difference have you seen?

On that very first Easter morning,

it didn’t seem to make much of a difference to Mary or the disciples.

Mary arrives at the tomb while it is still dark.

The stone which sealed the tomb has been rolled away.

Mary makes the most logical conclusion –

grave robbers have stolen the body!

She runs to tell Peter and the other disciple.

The two of them run back to check it out.

(There’s a lot of running in this text!)

They verify that the body is gone.

And then… they go home – assuming that Jesus is still dead;

and that the body is now missing.

It doesn’t seem to register with them, that the graveclothes were neatly folded…

Would robbers really wait to remove the wrappings around the body and fold them so carefully?

Mary is left by herself weeping by the tomb.

Finally she gathers up the courage to look inside it herself.

There are two angels inside and they ask her

what seems to be a rather silly question to

ask someone in a cemetery standing by an open grave…

They ask, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She tells them the sad story of the grave robbers.

No sooner has she told the story when someone else comes by,

and asks her the same question as the angels,  “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She turns to Jesus, thinks that he’s the gardener,

and (this is great) – she thinks that he’s the culprit!

She says, “If you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him!”

But then, finally, after much grief and in the midst of continued darkness,

Easter happens to Mary.

She hears a familiar voice speak her name, “Mary!”

And she knows.

“Rabbouni!   Teacher!”

There are no thieves.

The gardener had nothing to do with it.

There is no reason to be weeping.

Jesus is alive!

Easter happens.

And Mary starts the running again.

This time she runs to tell the disciples

that the empty tomb didn’t mean what they thought it did.

Guess what?!

Jesus could not be confined by a stone.

Jesus could not be confined by a shroud.

Jesus could not be confined by the darkness.

Jesus could not even be confined by death.

We tried to nail him down once….but he got loose.

This is the message Mary brings to the disciples.

“So what?”

“What difference does it make to you?”

It’s made a difference to Brad.

Brad is 30 years old.

He was a sergeant in the Marine Corps when he was wounded inIraqin 2006.

He lost part of both of his legs.

Last weekend he took part in the Wounded Warrior Bike ride fromWashingtonDCtoGettysburgusing a specially-made hand-cycle.

He biked 110 miles over two days in the pelting rain with his hands!

I could think of a lot of names Brad could call that terrible day he was injured in 2006 –

but do you know what Brad calls it?

He calls it his ‘born-again’ day – it’s his Easter day.

In the midst of darkness, Brad saw Easter happen.

His life changed forever on that day.

He might have spent his life wondering who robbed him – who took away his body…but he didn’t.

He heard the message of hope that Mary carried…

“We tried to nail him down once – but he got loose.”

It could have been despair which got loose in Brad – but it wasn’t.

Hope got loose in Brad.

Jesus Christ is no longer confined to a tomb in some garden inJerusalem,

but loose to the world, for the world, and in us – when we need it most.

Easter happens.

And just like that first Easter morning, it usually happens when things are still very dark.

Earlier this week a couple got a note from their bank about foreclosure.  It was dark.

Earlier this week a man got a phone call to pick up his teenage son at the police station.  It was dark.

Earlier this week a woman in Syria buried her husband and a child in Libya became an orphan.  It was dark.

Earlier this morning, police in China blocked 500 Christians from worshiping together on Easter.  It was dark.

It could be despair which gets loose in the couple, the man, the teenager, the woman, the child, the congregation…but that wouldn’t be Jesus.  And that wouldn’t be Easter.

Easter happens.  It happens when things are still very dark.

“We tried to nail him down once…but he got loose.”

Jesus Christ is no longer confined to a tomb in some garden in Jerusalem,

but loose to the world, for the world, and in us.

On this Easter day, may you both

Experience the resurrection – Jesus is loose within you and

Be the resurrection to others – Jesus is loose in the world.

Easter makes a difference!

Alleluia!  Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

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