Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We heard the words earlier last evening at the Easter Vigil, "the Light of Christ" and we responded, "Thanks be to God." Those eight words tell the story, reveal the glory and give us the peace that passes all human understanding.
Like Mary Magdalene we started out on the first day of the week, while it was still dark. We came to this place, gathered around the fire, mindful of the ashes of our past, the ashes of family, friends, parishioners who have been interred and the bodies which have been laid to rest since last year's Easter Vigil. The imposing words of Ash Wednesday still swirl in our consciousness, our hearts and minds, "You are dust and to dust you shall return."
But on this Holy Easter Vigil, there is a new diagnosis and prognosis:
"When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." (THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD)
We come in the dark, but we don't stay in the dark.
Our friend Peter Mayer has written a song in which he sings,
"Stirrin' up the water
Stirrin' up my soul
A light comes to the darkness
Come and make me whole
Oh Stir it up, stir it up, Oh Lord"
The light comes to the darkness. It might be the kind of darkness that exists because there is a lack of light. It might be the kind of darkness that comes when loneliness and depression flow over one like the waves of the sea. It might be the darkness of death and the residual grief that exists far longer than most people are willing to acknowledge and recognize.
Mary Magdalene was in the darkness. She couldn't see because her heart was broken, her dreams were shattered, her hope was lost. But, the good news is that Jesus came to her as she was wandering and wondering around in the dark.
15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
In an interesting case of mistaken identity, she thinks Jesus is the "gardener." I've always thought that to be such a funny/interesting line, but maybe she is more accurate than she knows. For earlier in this gospel Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing," (John 15:5).
Despite the darkness, the cloudiness, the fog of grief that she is wrapped in, the LIGHT shines in the darkness, the LIGHT no darkness can overcome.
Jesus simply calls her by name, "Mary." And then she says, "Rabbouni," which means "my teacher." She then takes off and has perhaps the shortest Easter sermon on record, "I have seen the Lord." Five simple words of authentic testimony. "I HAVE SEEN THE LORD." She doesn't say, "I've thought about the Lord." But, "I've SEEN the Lord."
The LIGHT SHINES in the darkness; it makes us whole.
God bless you and let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.
Christ is Risen. Christ is RISEN INDEED!