April 17 – Easter Day

April 17 – Easter Day

A Moment for Mission

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.” —John 20:18, NRSV

Jesus’ words to Mary are important for us to hear: “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father” (John 20:17, NRSV). She wasn’t holding on to him with her hands. Instead, she was looking at him, hoping in her heart of hearts that he was not leaving. “Don’t hold on to me,” he said. He could just as easily have said, “I’m not going that way. I’m on my way to God. And I’m taking the whole world with me.”

We gather on Easter, not because Christ died for us, but because Christ lives for us. That means something. It is more than historical fact. If the truth of the Resurrection is merely that God resuscitates a body, it is not worth our lives. 

But the truth of the Resurrection is not only true in one moment. It is true in all moments. Things have changed. We should’ve known it all along. The baby in the cattle stall, the pitiful little branch sprouting in the middle of the desert and the candle in the overwhelming darkness hinted at what was coming: life from death, light from darkness, Resurrection from a cross.

In the most frightening and exciting sense of the word, the Resurrection is true. For all of us. God breaks free. That is the end, the beginning and the middle of all our stories. God breaks free.

Children’s Message
In the summertime, do you ever catch fireflies? It is fun to watch their lights sparkle in a jar. But it’s just as exciting to let them go—to brighten your neighborhood.

Today is Easter. It’s not about bunnies and baskets of treats. It’s about Jesus keeping his promise that he would rise from the dead. Easter reminds us of the baby in the manger, the sprout in the desert, the candle in the darkness.

On Good Friday, the world went dark. On Holy Saturday, Jesus’ followers felt sad and hopeless. And on Easter morning, Jesus let go of death, coming out of the tomb, surprising Mary Magdalene and his disciples and amazing the world.

Easter is a day of gladness. Christ is risen, indeed!

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, thank you for the gift of Easter. Thank you for the resurrected Christ, who died and lives for us. Open our eyes to the freedom of the empty tomb. We love you. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Resurrection of the Lord — Mighty God of Resurrection Power: You offer us life that overcomes death, light that overcomes darkness, hope that overcomes our deepest despair! What response could we offer? Our tithes and gifts, yes; but our minds, hearts, bodies and witness as well. May our minds be about understanding who you are and who you long for us to be in this world. May our hearts overflow with your love and compassion for the poor, the oppressed, and the forgotten. May our bodies carry us out of the tombs of isolation to engage our neighbors as sisters and brothers. May our witness be the “Alleluias!” we take with us to bring hope to everyone we meet! In the Risen Christ, we pray. Amen. (John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12)

Newsletter Nugget
Whether we believe it or are ready to receive it, God is alive. That is what calls us here; that is what makes us get out of bed every reluctant morning; that is what finally gives us eyes to see the impossible—to see life, with all its rough edges and open wounds, coming toward us. 

We cannot push that love away, no matter how determined our efforts or how firmly entrenched in our sadness we may be. Nothing can hold it back now. Nothing. So don’t hold on to Jesus. As much as we would rather do that—keeping Jesus in a box, deciding when to let him out or when to listen—it is his turn to hold on to us, to take us into the impossible, the unseen, the unpredictable. 

Things would’ve been easier if Jesus had just stayed where we put him. But then, that wouldn’t be like him, would it?  

Adapted from the Rev. Brian Erickson, senior pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, www.trinitybirmingham.com. Used by permission.