Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Sunday Sermon, April 5, 2015: An Easter Horror Story.

This sermon was preached by Rev. Mark Peterson at Christ the King Lutheran church on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.

Gospel: Mark 16:1–8
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.  2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  3They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?"  4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.  5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  6But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.  7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you."  8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Jason, Freddy, Michael…On this Easter morning, do these names invoke any associations with you? What if I specify a little and say, Voorhees, Krueger, and Meyers? Ringing any bells for you?

Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Meyers, these are the terrifying characters of the horror films Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween respectively. Even if you haven’t seen these movies, you are probably wondering why on earth I would be bringing them up on Easter Sunday.

This morning, I invoke these terrifying characters, because Easter, is a pretty terrifying occasion. At least it was for Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Solome. Let’s hear from our Gospel reading again, “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” This statement, giving details of the Easter morning, is how Mark’s Gospel ends. With some women fleeing an empty tomb amazed and terrified.

Not really the image that comes to mind when we think about Easter, is it?

But it’s pretty natural, these women had seen Jesus die, a horrible death, and now they were being told by some guy in a white robe that Jesus has been raised.
Now, going back to our horror films, they always ended with Jason, Freddy, and Michael being killed, and then there would be another installment of the film where they would be raised from the dead, so that their story would continue, so that they could continue striking terror and fear in people.
So, we have terrified people and someone being raised from the dead….there are a few similarities here.

In the horror stories, nothing, not even death, can defeat these monsters. In God’s story, not even death, can defeat Jesus.

Yet, this morning, as we hear this news, that Jesus Christ has been resurrected, raised from the dead; I don’t envision a swarm of people fleeing from this place in terror. Rather, I’m hopeful that there will be a joyful attitude among us as we leave. And that’s because, despite the initial terror, the story of Jesus’ resurrection is not a horror story, but a Gospel Story, a Good News Story, the story of God’s salvation.

In this resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s story of salvation continues.

If you can imagine for a moment, those monsters in the horror films continually stalk their victims, never tiring or stopping until they finally get them.

Our God, in the person of Jesus doesn’t stop either. He keeps coming after us, to give us his love and give us his life, no matter where we flee to. Jesus comes after us when we flee from love to despair and isolation and the hiding places of bitterness, fear, hatred, and even the self-destruction that are found there. Jesus comes after us when we flee from love in order to fulfill our own selfish desires, and the ways that we hurt each other and God’s creation does not slow his pursuit of us. Jesus comes after us when stand breathless, in the face of real life tragedy and death, when all seems lost, when we can’t go any further, when it is time to give up.

Jesus comes after us, no matter of where we are, what we do, or what we will continue to do, he comes. And when Jesus finds us, and he does find us, he pours his life out for us, just as he did upon the cross. When he finds us he gives us his mercy, peace, and love, and in our lives, however broken they may be. When finds us, he gives us the hope of his resurrection, and he continues the story, the amazing, story of God’s saving work in us humans.

This morning, though we hear about some terrified women, we don’t hear a horror story, but we also don’t hear a conclusion, certainly not one that says, “and they lived happily ever after” either. Instead, we hear that the story, the story of Jesus, goes on and on. Indeed, Jesus is risen, he has found us and is here with us, giving us his life, and calling us to follow him to the place where God’s salvation has been and continues to be won, the cross. May we go from this place singing Hallelujah, and through our lives of mercy, of justice, of peace, and of love, through our lives that bear the life of Jesus, may we share the Good News that Christ is Risen!

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


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