Easter Sunday: Unlikely Voices

Message Title: Unlikely Voices
Theme: Even the Rocks Will Cry Out
Season: EASTER!
Main Text: John 20:1-18
Scripture Reading: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18; Mark 16:1-8
Focus: Women were the first to witness the resurrection
Function: To realize that God can use me and join the celebration of hope.
Other Notes: (Josh’s birthday) EASTER

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love lasts forever. 2Let Israel say it: “God’s faithful love lasts forever!” 14The Lord was my strength and protection; he was my saving help! 15The sounds of joyful songs and deliverance are heard in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s strong hand is victorious! 16The Lord’s strong hand is ready to strike! The Lord’s strong hand is victorious!” 17I won’t die—no, I will live and declare what the Lord has done. 18Yes, the Lord definitely disciplined me, but he didn’t hand me over to death. 19Open the gates of righteousness for me so I can come in and give thanks to the Lord! 20This is the Lord’s gate; those who are righteous enter through it. 21I thank you because you answered me, because you were my saving help. 22The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone! 23This has happened because of the Lord; it is astounding in our sight! 24This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!

THE ROCKS CRY OUT- series introduction– Last week was Palm Sunday and we celebrated the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Today is Easter Sunday and HE IS RISEN! (He is risen indeed!)

Easter is a season lasting longer than one holy Sunday. WE will be in “Eastertide” through April until May 23rd (Pentecost).

As we journey through Easter, we are going to use Jesus’ very own words as our inspiration. In Luke 19: 39-40, there is a conversation recorded between Jesus and a some pharisees. They told Jesus to tell his disciples to stop praising him. His response? “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”

As we look at Jesus’ story through the season of easter we will also explore the beauty of American National Parks.

ENGAGE AUDIENCE Have you been to a national park? Which one?

  1. Has anyone been to Yellowstone?

The Rocks: (Nature sings of God’s glory)

  1. Yellow Stone and Old Faithful
    1. Beautiful nature:
      1. Grand Prismatic Hot spring
      2. Morning Glory hot spring – changed over time because people kept throwing money in for “good luck” potentially forever changed by people’s litter.
    2. Old Faithful geyser
      1. This geyser is dependable. It is predicted to shoot off 20 times a day and can erupt for 1 minute to 5 minutes.
    3. A painter, Thomas Moran, & photographer, William Henry Jackson, were able to capture the beauty of this mysterious land that most thought was a myth.
      1. First national park in 1972 by Congress & President Ulysses Grant
      2. (https://www.yellowstonepark.com/park/history/

TRANSITION: It is difficult to not celebrate our great Creator when you see beautiful wonders like Old Faithful or the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring.Jesus had said, even the rocks will cry out praises.

God’s plans will be accomplished, even if we aren’t wanting to participate.

In our text for today, an unexpected thing happens and an unlikely candidate becomes the bearer of good news. Will this unexpected voice be heard?

SCRIPTURE: John 20:1-18 Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” 3Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. 4They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. 5Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. 7He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. 8Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying. 11Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. 12She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. 13The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

EXPLAINATION: Women were the first to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

  1. Setting the scene from Thursday to Sunday: Jesus on Maundy Thursday had given his disciples teachings in tandem with the Seder meal for Passover. Then they went to the garden to pray. Jesus was arrested just as Thursday was turning into Friday. Now, each of the Gospel accounts tell the next chain of events a little differently.
    1. Per Matthew & Mark, all the disciples left. One even ran away naked. (Mark 14:52)
    2. Per Luke & John say that a disciple (John names Peter) cuts off the ear of a soldier with a sword and Jesus tells him to stop.
    3. Per Luke, Peter followed Jesus after he was arrested, but at a distance. Then Peter denied being Jesus’ disciple 3 times, for fear of also being arrested an executed out of association with Jesus.
    4. (Per John, John was near the cross, because Jesus asked him to care for his mother.)
    5. Per Luke, the women followed Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha and were present when his body was laid in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea gave.
    6. Per Matthew & Mark, the women were following from a distance.

INTERPRETATION: Women were the first to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

  1. Can you picture being Mary?
    1. From Mary’s perspective, the men have all abandoned Jesus during his arrest, trial, beating, and crucifixion. The movement they had been part of for the last three years was falling apart. The one man who saw her and valued her as an equal, was dead.
      1. They watched their teacher be unjustly arrested. Brutally beaten. AND given a criminals death.
    2. NOW, Mary goes to Jesus’ tomb and it’s empty. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH JESUS?!
      1. Are they going to take away our dignity to properly care for his body and mourn his death?!?!
      2. She goes and gets two of the male disciples to show them what she has found. AND THEY WALK AWAY!?!
      3. They don’t even stay to figure out what happened.
    3. No wonder Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus right away, her world has been rocked. How many of us have been nonsensical in moments of grief or loss?
  2. Can you imagine the relief she would feel realizing that it wasn’t the gardener but Jesus speaking?
    1. He’s alive?! I KNOW he was dead, I helped take care of his body. HE’S ALIVE!?!
    2. Everything he said has come true!!!
  3. AND THEN Jesus tells her to go and share the news!
    1. The first person to witness the resurrection and be commissioned to share the story is a woman.
      1. A woman, who couldn’t even testify in a court of law because she was considered property.
      2. A woman, whose primary role was to get married, have children, and care for the homestead.
      3. A woman, who couldn’t even own property and if her husband died she would be at the mercy of her other relatives to survive.
    2. Jesus told a woman, the most unlikely of candidates, to share the good news.

APPLICATION:

  1. God can use the most unlikely characters or corners of creation for God’s purpose. Our God is the Redeemer of Stories and the Restorer of Lives.
    1. But sometimes, in the midst of our grief, it can be hard to hear those words or to see God’s hope.
    2. Sometimes we can be Mary crying in the garden, yelling at the gardener.
  2. Engage the audience in a litany reading- I want us to share in a reading. Sometimes to hear the words coming out of our own mouth can help us believe the truth.

Our God is the Great Redeemer and Creator.

No matter the choices you have made in your life.

All: God can use you

No matter the pains of my past

All: God can use me

No matter the differences between us

All: God can use us

God intends for the good of all creation

All: The rocks will sing of God’s glory

We are all invited to join with creation

All: All of God’s creation declare God’s glory

Our hope is placed in Jesus

All: He has Risen! Our Hope has risen!

He is risen indeed!

COMMUNION: As we celebrated on Thursday, Jesus gathered his disciples and broke bread and shared a cup. He changed the Seder meal forever. Today we celebrate our God who keeps his promises.

Communion is a reminder that there is still one promise left to be fulfilled. Christ will return and set the world right again. As we celebrate Easter and communion, we also remember that our job isn’t done and God still has one promise to fulfill.

Bless the bread & cup

CONCLUSION: Throughout time God has broken down social barriers and used unlikely people for his purpose. If God can use Hagar, Moses, or Deborah, God can use you too! We can join in with Old Faithful and the Great Prismatic in singing God’s praises and pointing towards the hope of Christ.

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