Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
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Seeking & Finding & Telling

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April 20:

Seeking & Finding [& Telling]
Call:    John 20: 1-18
Text:    Acts 10: 39-41
Prayer:  W&S # 33
Psalm:   Psalm 118: 14-14

         Seeking & Finding [&Telling]

Is there anyone in the New Testament
shy of Jesus himself, of course -
who is more important to Christianity
   than Mary Magdalene?

Oh, you might argue Peter
And you might argue Paul
But Miss Mary Magdalene
Might be the most essential of them all.

For in all four gospels
   She - whether alone or with others -
is the first to see the empty tomb

In all four gospels
   She - whether alone or with others -
Is the first to see the risen Christ

And perhaps most importantly, in all four gospels
   She - whether alone or with others -
Is the first to tell anyone about the risen Christ

Mary Magdalene is the glue that holds
the empty tomb stories
and the post resurrection appearance stories together
And she is the source of our knowledge of them

For instead of keeping the information to herself
   She set an example for us
   By telling Peter,
As well as the other disciples, and those mourning him.
Despite differences in the details that we find in the ways
the story is told by each of the gospel writers

We celebrate this Easter morning
   Because Mary Magdalene went to the tomb
   Because Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus
And   Because Mary Magdalene told others.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke did a fine job of telling the story
   But it is John's version that sparkles.

For John brings this woman to life.

In the eighteen verses that called us to worship
      We see how faithful she was
      We see how determined she was
   And   We see that even through her fear
as she experiences something that would blow the mind of any of us,
         She remained obedient
By doing what Jesus told her to do.

Imagine what it was like for Mary.

On Friday as she stood near the cross with his mother and aunt
   She heard a man whom she loved, respected, and followed
   Cry out from the cross to which he was nailed "Tis finished."
   She then saw him bow his head and die.
This man's presence in her life
had given her hope
and an expectation that he would lead her into his kingdom.

This man had taught her about God
   In a way that no one else could have
   In a way that had made her feel like he was God.

He had done remarkable things in her presence
   Healings and teachings

He was a special man
   And one of unselfish courage.

And now he was gone
   And her hope had been replaced with hopelessness
   Even as she knew that having known him
      Was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

And so, the first thing she did that day was get up early in the morning
   So early that it was still dark out
   So she could - despite fear and sadness - go to the tomb

But it isn't getting up early to go to the tomb
That reveals how special she is.

You see, while we respect her love and her grief
   a lot of Jesus' other followers might have done the same.
   In fact, I believe many of us here would have done that too.

The second thing that happened was that upon arrival,
   She discovered that the stone sealing the tomb had been rolled away

She was astonished
Again, not so special: you and I would have been astonished too.

Then she did what any woman in that male dominated society
would have done:  she ran for help
   and got Peter and John

These guys - Jesus' closest companions -
   Returned to the tomb with her.
      They went into the tomb
      They saw the linen wrappings and the cloth.

But then they returned to their homes.

They had seen that Jesus was gone.
   But either reluctantly accepted it
   Or sought refuge, fearful that they might be next.

After John tells us that the two disciples returned to their homes
   His next two words are  "But Mary"
   Tell us that the story is about to change dramatically
      And this is where we realize how special MM is.

For she did not accept it - even reluctantly.
She did not allow herself to be so gripped with fear
   As to go home and hide out.

She stayed in the garden
   And as she looked into the tomb
   She saw two angels who asked her
      "Why are you weeping?"

Now, Mary Magdalene was determined to find Jesus' missing body

And whenever I read this,   I picture
   A short, sturdy, spunky and fearless woman
practically exploding in pain
      "They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him."

Then Jesus appeared,
but for whatever reason,
Mary perceived him to be the gardener

He too asked the same question, "Why are you weeping?"
   But being certain that she was seeking someone
He added,   "Whom are you looking for?"

Concluding that the gardener had disposed of the body,
She pleaded with desperation,
"..tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away"

Here we have to pause
   For this part of the story amuses me when I think about it
   It puts a smile on my face
And it is usually overlooked
as we hurry to what we know is going to happen.

She has insisted on taking possession of his body
   But where is she going to take him?
And how is she going to move him?

Can you picture this young woman dragging Jesus' dead body down the streets of Jerusalem?
   Or even just back to the tomb?

But she didn't have to

   For when the perceived gardener spoke her name
   She knew that her search for Jesus was over
      She had found him.

Jesus then instructed her as to what he expected her to do,
   "Go to my brothers and tell them"
Mary went and she announced to the disciples,
   "I have seen the Lord."

In going to tell the disciples
   Even the ones who seemed to accept that he was gone
Mary became the essential link.

In doing so, this woman from Magdalena
   Set an example for you and me.

The first part of her example is
That you and I need to determinedly seek Jesus
And not simply make a brief effort
   And then go back home.

If we do seek him, we will find him
   Maybe not where, nor in what form, we expect
   But we will find him.

And when we find him
   We need to follow the second part of her example
   By telling others about him.

We can do so with our words
But just as powerfully we can do so with our actions

And so on this day of new beginnings,
   Our resolution is
      To seek him
      To find him
   And   To tell the world about him
      By our compassion, our mercy, and our service

On Pentecost, Peter
no longer hiding in his house,
and certainly no longer denying knowing Christ
told the crowd,

   "We are witnesses
to all that he did in Judea and in Jerusalem
   They put him to death
      By hanging him on a tree
   But God raised him on the third day
      And allowed him to appear
   Not to all the people
      But to us who were chosen as witnesses
      And who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead."
      [Acts 10: 39-41]

Peter had learned a lot from Mary Magdalene
   I hope we have too.