Here are the notes from which I preached - I think I went 'off piste' quite a bit!
Easter Sunday Isaiah 25: 6-9 Mark 16: 1-8a
Mark’s account of the resurrection allows an amazing story to unfold, although his abrupt end leaves us still hanging on the edge of true revelation.
After the dashed hopes of Palm Sunday, and the utter desolation of Good Friday, the story of Easter Sunday begins with a faithful group of women going out, just after sunrise, to perform a final act for their Lord – to anoint his body.
They are the ones who had watched the terrible act of crucifixion from a short distance away. Whilst the men who followed Jesus had scattered and fled in fear, these 3 women – Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James & Salome – are named as being amongst those who stood watch while Jesus died. It may even be that it is their eye-witness account which Mark used to write his gospel.
They are the ones who know for sure that Jesus is dead; and Mary of Magdala & Mary the mother of James are also named as those who watched where Jesus’ body was laid by Joseph of Arimathea. They watch and mark where Jesus’ body is so that once the Sabbath is over they can go and anoint the body.
They do not go with our sense of excitement that first Easter Sunday – they expect only to find the body of their Lord.
They knew that the tomb had been sealed with a huge stone, and they were wondering how to move it to get in to reach the body.
They find the stone rolled away – the tomb open and empty except for a young man dressed in white who tells them to go and tell the disciples that Jesus of Nazareth is risen.
‘Then they went out and ran away from the tomb, trembling with amazement. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid’.
We cannot blame the women for needing some time to get to grips with what they have discovered. This is the story which will change the world.
And of course the story does not end there: if those women had not eventually found a way to tell the story, if others hadn’t learnt of the resurrection of Jesus for themselves, we wouldn’t be here celebrating today.
But here is the start of the story which moves all of Jesus’ followers from fear to belief: here is the unleashing of the power of God and the love of God which is greater than all evil, greater than the death we all fear. Here is the proof of the power of God which leads us all into supreme freedom as loved children of God.
Jesus’ resurrection proves that he is who he says he is – the Son of God. Proof that in Jesus we do not see a good man prepared to die for his friends, but God in human form, come to live and die for the whole world, and to live again to offer us all new life.
And so the feast begins: ‘See this is our God!’
Come and eat & drink & celebrate the love of God which never dies. Come and celebrate God’s love for you.
Come and receive God’s love and power and be made new. Thanks be to God. Amen.