April 12, 2020 at 10:00am St. Peter the Apostle in Naples, FL Live-Streamed
Acts of the Apostles 10, 34-43 + Psalm 118 + 1 Corinthians 5, 6-8
John 20, 1-9
It is a story we have heard and shared in this holy place many times, but perhaps never with more hope than we do today. As John tells it, there is not a lot of Joy being shared, and certainly not much excitement except for the all running around. If you sit with this Gospel for very long, there are a lot of inconsistencies, and if we put ourselves right into the scene, there are way more questions than answers: like, “who rolled back the stone? Why is the cloth that covered his head in a separate place? Why did John tell us it was still dark? How could she see anything in the darkness? Why did John wait for Peter? Now anyone who has read John’s Gospel up to this twentieth chapter knows that logic is not John’s strong suit, and nothing is ever as it appears to be.
One thing is sure, John is leading us deeper into this mystery with ever deeper questions than the ones I just came up with. If we’re going into this mystery, we have to go with Mary into the darkness, because that’s where everything has happened that matters over the last three days. It all happens at night, and even when Jesus is crucified, the sun goes dark, and its night again. If we let our scripture filled minds work with this image, we might end up back in Genesis when darkness covered the earth and creation began, because that is exactly where John wants us to be, at the dawn of a new creation.
Understanding that this Gospel is proclaiming a new creation is what we find in this mystery. That empty tomb is where we belong. That empty tomb is what gives us an identity and a reason for our existence as church. Believing that we belong to the new creation is the hope we proclaim with the news that Christ has Risen. That Spirit the Creator breathed into creation at the beginning comes again to breathe new and eternal life into us and into all for this new creation. This news could not come at a better time for us as we are driven into our homes with some fear and confusion about what this all means. Yet, we are much like the three in this Gospel, people of “little faith” – but maybe that’s just enough, because a little gives us something to grow on, and grow we must.
It seems to me that right now, all scattered about, hiding in our homes, away from the company and communion we share as a church, we must grow in wisdom and grace. I have always liked to imagine what went on inside that tomb before the stone moved. I like to think that God the Father shook his son awake, looked at him and said. “Enough rest. Get up now. There is more to do. We’re not finished yet.” With that, a son obedient unto death was also obedient unto life, and so, he got up returning to get us up, to wake us up, to stir us up so that unlike that first man and woman, we might get it right this time here in the new creation.
Christ is Risen. In spite of our “little faith, our sometimes-timid witness, our confusion and doubts, so shall we.