“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” (Jn. 20:1). This morning as you come to the tomb, what do you see? Is it an empty tomb? What does an empty tomb say to you? As I read this passage, I noticed that the word “saw” kept appearing and wondered what this word says to us about the meaning of Easter morning?
It’s easy to judge people based on their appearance. We do it all the time. But when we judge by appearances, we often get things wrong. I once took a man whom I knew fairly well to the ER. He looked dirty and disheveled, and was dressed in the blue overalls a car mechanic might wear. The ER staff looked at him and asked if he was homeless. I told them no. In fact, he probably had more money than all of us in the room. That’s just the way he lived. On the other hand, there was a homeless person who would come to the church for help, and he always wore a white shirt and a tie. Appearances can be deceiving.
The season of Advent offers signs that Christmas is close at hand. Each week we’ve lit candles that help us prepare to receive the promise of Christmas. Since we lit the fourth candle this morning, which is the candle of love, we can be quite certain that the next candle we light will be the Christ Candle, marking the coming of Christmas. So, be on the alert, the time of celebration is at hand!
While we process the election results and ask what they mean for us as Christians living in America, we have gathered for worship on what we’re calling Commitment Sunday. This means that I’m tasked with preaching another stewardship sermon. This will be my sixth such sermon drawn from the Gospel of Luke. The underlying theme of these readings is Jesus’ command to “Go and Do the Same.” That command emerged from the question: “who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded to that question with the parable of the Good Samaritan. When he finished telling the story, he asked the man who he thought was the neighbor after hearing the parable? The man answered: “the one who showed mercy.” Then, Jesus told him and us to “go and do the same” (Luke 10:25-37). Each of the five previous texts we’ve looked at, beginning in June, raises the question of who we are as God’s people in relationship to the world in which we live. Now that we’ve reached the end of the road, we’re faced with an “apocalyptic” reading that invites us to stay faithful to the end even when things get tough.
Today is World Communion Sunday. It was established years ago as a reminder that God’s Table is a Table of unity, even though God’s church is fragmented. All across the globe Christians are gathering to share the Supper that Jesus established so that we might remember him and in doing so share his love with the world. Though this observance has Presbyterian origins, it began to spread across the globe after the Federal Council of Churches adopted it in the late 1930s.