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March 26, 2005 (Easter Vigil)

Intern Pastor Katy Grindberg

John 20:1-18

Grace and peace to you from God our loving creator and from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

The gospel account we heard tonight gives us three very different reactions to the empty tomb. Setting the scene, Mary Magdalene arrives and finds the stone moved and runs back to Peter and John to tell them. Then we have the very strange footrace between John and Peter, with John winning the race to the tomb. Then we have what is almost a dance between John and Peter, as John looks into the tomb, seeing only the cloths, then Peter arrives and he went into the tomb, and saw the cloths as well, but also the napkin that was on Jesus' head, then John follows Peter into the tomb, and he "saw and believed."

Then, we are told, they both went back to their homes, leaving Mary Magdalene standing outside the tomb weeping. She soon stoops over to look into the tomb and sees two angels, who speak to her and then when she turns away from the tomb she sees a man standing in the cemetery. She doesn't recognize his as Jesus until he says her name. When he speaks, "Mary" she immediately recognizes him as her teacher, her Lord. And following his directions she becomes the first post-Easter evangelist--going and telling the disciples what she had seen.

This tomb encounter parallels the faith journey that we travel. We look and we see; we enter into the tomb and see more--more clearly, more deeper, more details; we process what we see, melding it with what we have heard and what we else we have seen and we believe; and then we encounter Christ and we cannot help but go and tell, through word or deed what Jesus is about--what Jesus told us to do.

As the three disciples at the tomb demonstrate an increasingly deeper encounter with the risen Christ, so, we too travel this path--and not just once, but over and over in our faith journey. Tonight we were privileged to be part of Angie and Kimberely's faith journey. They both have reached a place where they are ready to make a public profession, where they are ready, with Mary Magdalene, to tell--to share with us, their brothers and sisters in faith, their desire to continue on the path, to continue to learn, to grow in their relationship with God, with Jesus, to do the work that God calls them to, in the world.

It is an important reminder, for us, that the journey doesn't end at the font, it doesn't end at affirmation of faith, which for many of us happened in Middle School at confirmation. Those actions are part of the journey. The candle is meant to continue to burn, the Bible is meant to be read, your minds and your hearts, your hands and your feet are meant to be put to work in the world. God's love is so large, so powerful, you can do no less in response than to love God in return, and love God's people, love God's creation--leaving the empty tomb to share with others the love you have found there.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

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