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4-1-18 Easter Sermon

Sermon Easter Mark 16:1-8

In our Gospel Mary Magdalene was processing a life-altering question for which she had no answer.  The events of the last few days were unbelievable.  Her grief was all consuming . . . and that morning, the first day of the week--still dark outside, she tried to make some sense out of what had happened.                                                                                                                                               

She went to ground zero—the last place she’d seen Jesus.                                                                         

She replayed the horror of the cross over and over in her mind, the urgent rush to prepare Jesus’ body before Sabbath.            

She just had to go back… just in case…something could be done to make things right.  Stunned and exhausted, Mary grieved for the Savior she’d loved and followed.                                                                                

So when she went to the tomb, only to find the seal had been broken, the grave cloths were in a pile and Jesus’ corpse could not be found at all, sobbing hysterically, she ran to tell the disciples the latest turn of events, the looting of the grave.                                

Until two days ago she’d finally known who she was—she had a new identity: Mary Magdalene was a disciple of Jesus.  But what now… who was she supposed to be now?  Isn’t that the question each of us ask…what is our identity as followers of Jesus CHRIST?                                                                   

While she was weeping, she met a stranger in the garden and assumed it was the gardener.  He looked at her with compassion and asked her why she was crying, and how he could help her.                                                                                               

“If you have moved his body, please, please tell me where you have laid him.”                                              

"Mary.”  Her name.  That’s all he said, . . .but then she knew.  She recognized His voice, as it pierced the foggy, confused chaos of her brain.  Looking up at Him she said, “Teacher.”            

In that moment when Jesus called her name her whole world shifted and nothing would ever be the same again.                           

One moment she was in the darkness of grief and the next moment in the presence of Jesus her savior.                                        

Mary was tired and emotionally drained, but still she recognized Jesus when He called her name.  At that moment the risen CHRIST changed everything.  Mary’s hope is restored—he’s here!  He’s alive!  Everything will get back to the way it used to be!  But Jesus tells her it’s time to let go. Jesus called her by name.  She had witnessed the power of God, everything changed.  That’s the message of the Easter resurrection. Everyone who encounters Jesus is asked to change.                    

Lay down your nets he told the disciples;                                                                                                  

repay those you’ve stolen from;                                                                                                                         

 get up and walk.                                                                                                                                               

Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.                                                                                                 

When the living God calls your name, everything changes--because the resurrection is NOT about staying the same.              

When we are personally confronted by the LORD, when the resurrected CHRIST calls our names, he expects us to change. For Mary, that meant putting her old life behind her and telling the good news of resurrection at every opportunity.  It truly meant living life God’s way.      God called her name . . . and God calls our names, too.                                                                                     

But casually acknowledging a 2000-year-old story once a year, isn’t likely to change much of anything. We cannot leave this place today and put the promise of resurrection back on the shelf until next year.                                                                              

God is calling our names . . . all of us!  Just like Mary we are offered a personal invitation to go and tell--to live our lives with the conviction, because Jesus has won the victory over sin and death.  Easter is so much more than a nice holiday celebrating the rights of spring.                                                                                                                                                

The resurrection is a world-altering event.  But as Mary’s story tells us, it was also a very personal event.  Listen as the resurrected CHRIST calls you by name.  Then let the power of that call sink into your very soul, and go out, reborn as a disciple of Jesus CHRIST, and proclaim to the world that the LORD is risen and He’s alive.  Jesus is calling our names . . . calling you and me to practice the resurrection every single day of our lives.                                                                                      

Over the next six weeks of Easter, we’re going to look at what it takes for you and for me to live a resurrection life.                   

Jesus wouldn’t let Mary leave that day without being changed, and Jesus won’t let us leave unchanged, either.                  

Friends, every day love someone who does not deserve it.                                                                       

Serve in the name of Jesus—expecting nothing in return.                                                                            

Give sacrificially so the kingdom of God will advance.                                                                          

Practice the resurrection.                                                                                                                              

Jesus has called you by name and today is the day to answer that call. Jesus told Mary to go and tell.  He tells every one of us to do the very same.      Step out in faith. Take this resurrection hope out of this building and into the world.   Amen