Empty Tomb, Mystery Suprise Party
Gathering as church
April 12, 2020
Father David Jones
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
The other disciple arrived at the tomb first;
He saw the burial cloths there
Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head,
Then the other disciple also went in,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.
Church on Easter Sunday, this scripture is repeating what Jesus said in Matthew 18 verse 20.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
They all went to the tomb and eventually made it to the church.
This pandemic is highlighting something that deeply concerns me.
More and more we are gathering for funerals
And today, when you think about it, people are risking their life in order to go to a funeral. In other words, to do what I want to do.
Mary of Magdala went to see the tomb.
When she got there and saw the stone rolled away,
She wasn’t expecting that,
She had not considered that,
She didn’t know what to do with that
So, she did what? She high tailed it out of there.
Peter and the other disciple came to the tomb to see what was up in there. These were nosey men.
So, we have the dutiful, don’t start none, won’t be none, woman
And the nosey men meeting at the cemetery.
And in the middle of the meeting
Mary let go of her logic.
Logically, something was wrong
Something was foul
And when John met her at the cemetery
His fear stopped him, but his curiosity got the best of him.
Then came Johnny come lately, the wonderkin, the rock star, Peter.
He came to fix this thing.
But he went in first and allowed the other two the comfort of following him,
and with no real explanation
He let go of his need to be in control and to have things his way
and he humbled Mary
and peaked John’s curiously by showing them that not only was the burial cloth and head dress still in the tomb,
they were rolled up and put away.
Peter said, this is not the work of a ne’re-do-well. This is the work of somebody who had an excellent mother and amazing home training. He opened their eyes to something mysterious.
And that’s when it happened.
Not by one, not by two, but by two or more gathered in His name.
They thought they were gathering at the tomb
And Jesus did his thing and turned that gathering into a church.
Church he will do it in your living room if you let him
He will do it in your kitchen
He will do it when you are a camera-ready baby and he will do it when you are a casket sharp young man.
All it takes is a small gathering and some good home training and a little bit of mystery, and God has got a ball-game going on that could capture the attention of the whole world.
An Easter Sunday during a pandemic it doesn’t get any better than this to get it right.
If two or more of us kind find the time to just think about it,
Just wonder about it, just be about it, something good is going to come out of all the tombs of life.
Something someone tried to bury out of fear is going to rise up and save lives.
Something God given is going to pick us up, turn us around, and place our feet on solid ground and we will never show up to a church for a funeral again.
We will show up to a church because somebody was raised from the dead.
We will we show up to a church because somebody lived, not because they died.
It’s Easter Sunday, and here we are gathered by invisible, electric, particles of light.
The scientists tell us that these energetic gamma rays, after billions of collisions with matter, this radiation reaches us after something between 100,000 years and 50 million years ago.
The church tells us the mystery continues.
Today I clicked on a link and I was in church.
Happy Easter from Saint Benedict the African Parish,
The Catholic Church in Englewood.
Keep clicking on the link
Keep believing that when we link together
People get baptized
The Word gets proclaimed
Prayers get sung
And somehow, we get communion.
God is talking this Easter
To a church of people who like to say we always did it this way
And he is clearly saying
Believe it or not, I’ve been doing this for longer than you know.
I’ve been getting you to church for longer than you know.
Your 20/20 vision is not perfect, but it’s enough for you to see me.
In Easter God says, trust me, you are not ready for all of this
I’m going to let you see the empty tomb and figure out that
He ain’t dead.
So someday, one glad morning before this life is over,
You can see how to live right and stop living a live where your best gathering is a Facebook funeral for everybody who went to school with you and your birthday parties will be for everybody who came to church with you.
Mary, John and Peter tried to go to that tomb to keep the funeral going.
Jesus turned it into a surprise party where you walk away with the greatest mystery novel ever.
Happy Easter church!
We don’t know what tomorrow brings, but we do know that God is light years ahead of us.
We may have to start wearing sun-glasses in church because
God is alive and brilliant.
Keep clicking on the link that makes us church and keep following the man who was raised from the dead.
Keep being amazed!
Mark the day the school closed
Mark the day of the shutdown of the church
Mark the day of the shelter in place order
Mark the day you stopped going out in public
Mark the day somebody coughed and you jumped
Mark the day somebody sneezed and you ran
Mark the day of the reopening
Don’t forget to re-mark the day of Easter