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
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Alone and Not Alone

April 5 Sunrise:

April 5, 2015   (Easter Sunrise)
Call:       Mark 15: 42-47;     Matthew 28: 7;
John 20:1           Romans 13: 11-12
Reading:    W&S #33
Text:       John 20: 1-18
Closing:    Isaiah 9:2

            Alone and Not Alone

Holy Thursday,      Good Friday     Easter Sunday.

What happened on Saturday?

I don't really know.

For except for Matthew's brief mention
    Of the chief priests requesting that the tomb be guarded
        To prevent anyone from taking the body
        And thereby pretending that Jesus had risen
Nothing else is mentioned in the gospels.

We do know the request was granted.
In fact, Matthew told us that they even sealed the stone,
thus securing the entrance to the tomb.

But what I am interested in is what Christ's followers did
    And what they felt.

I have tried to put myself in the position
    In which they found themselves on Saturday.

When I have done that
I have thought about the days that preceded that Saturday
When I think about them
I find that I am in shock.

I find it easy to remember the shouts and the hosannas
    That Jesus heard as he entered into Jerusalem

However, on Saturday,
the shouts and hosannas no longer give me joy and hope

For now they cause bitterness to come into my heart
They have been made sour
By the shouts of "Crucify him!  Crucify him!"

As a disciple I had signed up to follow Jesus
    Believing that he was the messiah

And now I feel like a boat without a rudder.
    I feel at loose ends
    I feel like whatever I do, it is inadequate
    I feel like I am wandering from one thing to another

I pray a lot.

I pray  For comfort and for understanding.
But my prayers, at times, reflect my bitterness and my anger

My anger
    At God for allowing this to happen
My anger
    At those who insisted that he be crucified
My anger
    At Jesus for not protecting himself better
        "Why didn't he save himself?"
            like Satan told him to during the temptation

My anger
    At myself for getting myself into this mess
        An for thinking that this guy really was the messiah.

My anger at my fellow disciples
    For not catching on and preventing it.

And missing Jesus I would also have felt alone
Very much alone
even when I was in the presence of others.

Those are my thoughts when I try to put myself
    Into the position of his disciples on that Saturday

And maybe that is why I relate to the Mary Magdalene in John's version
of the Sunday morning visit to the tomb.

Unlike his fellow gospel writers,
    John tells us that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb
by herself  - he mentions no others
This what happened according to John        [John 20: 1-18]

So Mary, as the song goes, "went to the garden alone"
    And she did so, at this earliest time of day
"while the dew was still on the roses."

She was there by herself
    Until she discovered that the stone had been rolled away

At that point she was
    Scared and excited
She needed someone else to witness and to help her process
    What she saw.

And so she went to get Peter and John.

When they heard the news
They ran to the tomb
Indicating that they too must have been excited
        Although I do suspect that a part of them
thought Mary was mistaken or delusional

When the guys arrived
They looked into - and then actually went into - the tomb
    They saw the linen cloths and the face cloth

They believed   (DUH!)
    That the tomb was empty
    But they did not yet understand that he had to rise from the dead.

And so      the guys left,
    Again leaving Mary to fend for herself.
    Again enabling her to say that she was in the garden alone.

This time, in her loneliness and loss,
she broke down and cried.

It was while she was crying that she spotted the angels
    And they asked her about her tears

Now to get the most of Mary's conversation with them
    We need to feel Mary's pain.

The man she had been following and serving
    Had been arrested on Thursday
    He had been tried, executed, and buried on Friday
    On Saturday, because it was the Sabbath
she was unable to go to the tomb to anoint the body
So she gets up early Sunday
    Goes to the tomb all by herself,
    Finds the stone rolled away and the body missing,
And     is abandoned by the guys she has asked for help.

She is distressed, disturbed, and distraught.

This woman is in a garden all by herself
    Without a clue as to what to do.

And so when asked why she is crying, she sobs,
    "Because they have taken my Lord
    And I don't know where they've put him"

They have taken my Lord
And I don't know where they have put him.

All I can think of is the musical, "1776"
    Where John Adam questions?
        "Is anybody there?
        Does anybody care?"

But someone was there
And someone did care.

That someone was not the gardener as she at first thought
    That someone was Jesus himself.

And at this point
    He walked with her  and he talked with her
And by doing so
    Told her she was his own.

And the message that even those of us with thick skulls should get is that no matter how alone we feel or seem to be
    We are never really alone
    For the resurrected Jesus is right there with us

We just have to recognize him.

And so,
    On the first day of the week
    While it is still dark out
        We have gathered
        To feel Mary's pain
        to feel Mary's excitement.
And to take to heart
    That we are never alone!