We are called to See not just look, Easter Sunday 2021
The Reverend Michele H. Morgan
Easter Morning 2021
April 4, 2021
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”, and she told them that he had said these things to her. John 20:1-18
Mary went to the tomb. The text does not say that she looked in but of course, she had to have, she had to look because something got her to run away and find the beloved disciple and Simon Peter and then all three of them looked, and all three of them saw something different. It is amazing to think about it, all the looking and the running and the meaning-making of it all.
It is all the looking and the seeing that has me amazed this morning. What is the difference between when do we look and when do we finally see?
Mary, (also a disciple by the way and also beloved.) Went and saw that the rock was rolled away, she looked and saw the body of her Healer and teacher, gone and she did not sit in the terror of it she did what Jesus set her up to do, she went and found a community to help her.
The Beloved Disciple got there first, well first the second time, and when the Beloved Disciple looked they saw some wrappings, then Simon Peter looked and saw the wrappings and the cloth as well. Then they left. To plan? To get others? To pack to get out of town before Rome came knocking? We are not sure, yet at this moment they are gone. Mary stays and continues to weep and then she goes beyond her looking and she starts to see…
In seeing, she sees Angels at the foot and the head of the tomb, and they do not say do not be afraid they say why are you weeping? Had Mary had an angel encounter was she able to stay in this moment with them? Then she looks at the gardener and then she sees Christ.
We too are called to see and not just look. We are this Easter morning celebrating that everything has radically changed, everything if we see and not just look. In our belief system, God broke into time and space, in the body of Jesus, and importantly brought the Godhead into the world and most importantly brought humanity to the Godhead. In that act, everything changed, for us and for God. We as Christians believe that we can see things anew and in the seeing, we can change ourselves and each other.
Mary the disciple is able to see because she is within the community and she can build on what is seen before her, now not just a stolen body, but a missing body, the wrapping left, the cloth left, she then is able to see angels and then her teacher. I wonder if she would have been stuck on one part of it if she did not have a community to nudge her along, to help her see something radically new, life-changing new, transformative?
A symbol of racial hatred or racial terror was left in our garden two days before Palm Sunday. It is a long-standing symbol of fear and it has no business in that garden, in this city, this country, or this world. It was shocking to see and it made me weak-kneed and sick at heart. Yet a spark of hope also came to the Garden on that same day, someone came and left a sign on our fence that said “Black Lives Matter”, and then someone else came and put up, ‘hate has no home here.’
I went out and looked at those symbols, of someone who heard the news and came and looked and saw something else and put up a sign that transformed. I knew that we could further transform our space and sanctify it with love so with the help of Caleb, and Tracy we had an event that was signs of love. And the goal was to cover our fence with signs of love “love wins every time we are ALL god’s children” Love wins, and symbols of the major religions now cover our fence.
So out of that, a collection of 50 members, other churches, our neighbors, some of the police, and Rabbi Lustig some friends from Washington Hebrew Congregation came by and we made signs, were given, and received a peace bench, and actually saw each other.
What is the difference between when do we look and when do we finally see? This is a call to see anew the world. To see the dignity of human life, (of seeing each other) and that relationship to God. I need God, God and the church reminds me to see people, to seek and serve Christ in all persons. That is from our Baptismal covenant and it does not mean to only see professed Christians, it is to see the divine spark in everyone. EVERYONE! Look in the eyes of people and see them.
Like Mary, Simon Peter, the beloved Disciple, Rabbi Lustig, the police, the neighbors we went from looking to seeing, and in that the spark of the divine was present and we move and see the chance for dignity for all and God that passes all understanding in our midst. We had God in our midst and we saw one another. AMEN