Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Fear and Joy

April 20 (Sunrise), 2014:

Scriptures:
   Friday:  Matthew 27: 45-46; 50-51; 55-56
   Saturday:   Matthew 27: 62-66
   Sun Dawn:    Matthew 28: 1-6; Matthew 28: 7-10
   Closing: Acts 10: 39-41
Prayer:  Easter Sunrise Prayer (Jim Barnes)

         Fear and Joy

This is the time of the year
- as we have noted throughout the week -
when you and I need to experience the scriptures.

We needed to experience - not just read -
   The joy and excitement of Jesus' triumphal entry
      And the cheers, praise, and acclamation
         That he received as he entered.

And then we needed to experience - not just read -
   The stunning and frightening announcement
      Of the last meal he shared with his disciples
      An announcement made not only at that meal
         But also through that meal.

And, of course, we needed to experience - not just read -
   The terror of hearing the crowd call out to Pilate
      "Crucify him!" "Crucify him!" "Crucify him!"
   and the equally strong terror of seeing this man
      Whom we loved and who loved us
         With nails holding him to the cross
         And people below mocking and jeering him

Finally we needed to experience the sorrow and confusion
   Of the Saturday when we did not know what to do
   When in our sadness we could not even imagine
      That we would ever again experience joy.

We gather at this early hour
So that we can go with the two Marys
So that we can go as the two Marys
So that we can feel and experience what the two Marys felt

As our prayer said:

We go to the tomb with them and like them
   Disturbed, distressed, and depressed

We go to the tomb with them and like them
   With fear, anger, and confusion

We go to the tomb with them and like them
to say good bye
and   yet with disbelief and a need for life to get back to normal

With them and like them we go to the tomb
Needing  hope
Needing  healing
Needing  courage
      For like them we go lacking all three.

As we travel with - and as - that pair of women
   We do hope that we can put some order and normalcy
      Back into our lives.

BUT,  Order in our lives is not what we first encounter!
      At that tomb   on that morning

For "suddenly there was a great earthquake
   An angel of the Lord descended from heaven

That angel rolled back the stone
   And sat on it.

Now here I always picture
the angel sitting on the rock
arms folded across his chest
and with a self satisfied look on his face
   perhaps amused by the guards
who were paralyzed with fear.

But this combination of
Earthquake, angel, and moved rock
had to have shaken the women to their cores as well.

If I am to visualize myself as being with them
   I can assure you
That I would be shaking in my boots - or sandals.

I mean,
   Imagine approaching the tomb with the emotions of our prayer
      And then encountering an earthquake and an angel.

Ohhhh, yeah!!  I would have been shaking.    You too!

But as amused as the angel must have been with the guards' fear,
   He wanted to comfort and reassure
those who were approaching the tomb.

"Do not be afraid" he said to them (and to us)
   I know that you are looking for Jesus
   He is not here
But the angel did not stop there.
   For he explained to the speechless women
      "The reason that he is not here
         is that he has been raised
         as he said he would."

And then the angel told them that Jesus would be meeting them when they got to Galilee.

Process that.

You come to the tomb of a man whom you saw die on a cross.
You come fearful, discouraged, and without hope

And you then experience an earthquake
You have an angel talk to you
   telling you not only that Jesus has been raised from the dead
   but also he is planning on meeting you shortly.

Isn't your head spinning?
Aren't you a bundle of mixed emotions?

The women were.
   They left the tomb quickly to tell the disciples
And they left with a remarkable combination
of both  fear and great joy.

This morning we have tried to imagine
   Taking a trip to the tomb with - and as - the two Marys

But their trip did not end at the tomb
And neither does ours.

Remember as we set out on this journey we prayed

We prayed that God would give us hope
We prayed that God would give us healing

In the resurrection experience that we received at the tomb
   God gave us hope
And   God gave us healing

That message of the tomb experience was confirmed
as we met him on our way to tell the disciples

But as we set out on our journey,
we prayed for one more thing.

We prayed that God would give us the courage
to tell the story
   Of the one whom was placed in the tomb
that  today    we have visited at dawn.

With both the fear and the joy we experienced at the tomb
   Is there any way that any of us
      Can not now have that courage?

I can't believe   that is possible.