by Daniela Mertz

Leamington; 10:30, Easter Sunday 3/23/2008

Greetings and Announcements
P: Christ is risen.
C: He is risen indeed!
Call to worship

P: Come and see, come and rejoice. God calls us together for
a celebration.
C: We have come seeking Jesus of Nazareth. We want to know
the One who comforts and heals.
P: Enter into this time of worship and thanksgiving; receive
once more the good news of peace.
C: God is our strength and our song; God has acted in Christ for
our salvation.
P: The gates of righteousness have opened to you, Jesus
promises to meet you along life's way.
C: Christ is risen: What a joyous moment! Christ is risen; we
want to tell the world.

Entrance Hymn: Jesus Christ is risen today 151

Apostolic Greeting
Hymn of praise: This is the feast
Prayer of the Day
P: Let us pray

Prayer of the Day:
God of our Sabbath times and of all the days that follow, break through the defenses we have erected to shut you our, Meet us among the tombs we visit in our despair, and call our names once more. At the feet of Jesus we would now worship and learn so our discipleship may be reclaimed and strengthened. We want to tell the world the incredible story that love is alive and can make all the difference. Amen.

First Reading: Acts 10,34-43

Psalm: 118,1-2,14-24


Second Reading : Colossians 3,1-4

Alleluia Verse


P: The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 28,1-10

Gospel - Reading

P: The Gospel of the Lord

C: Praise to you, O Christ

Hymn: Thine is the Glory 145


Sisters and brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

The day was just dawning when the two women were heading to Jesus' grave. They did not talk much. They each were lost in their own strain of thoughts, tortured by haunting images of a man, their dearest friend dying in agony on a cross. The last 48 hours had been a nightmare turning the lives of these women upside down. Jesus death turned their hope into despair, their joy into grief, their faith into uncertainty. Only their love survived the dreadful days and grew even deeper.

As Jesus was crucified like an ordinary criminal. Of course they hoped for a last minute miracle, as people often do, when they have to face death. Hoping for a miracle to save them or a loved one from certain death. But there was no miracle. No courageous bystanders, who would have rescued Jesus from the Roman soldiers; no host of angels; not the smallest sign of heavenly intervention on behalf of Jesus. That Friday afternoon de died just like the two criminals next to him; a haunting nightmare.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary they must have been strong women. For them to get up, while the other disciples and friends of Jesus were still in a state of shock, says something about these two women. It tells something about the power of their love for Jesus. And now, as the day broke, they were on their way to the grave. To make sure everything was as it should be or if there was any work to be done around the resting place of their loved one Jesus, say a prayer, remember him. People do that. We do that, when someone we love dies and is buried. We go and visit the grave. I remember how an old lady in Billingshausen used to visit her husbands grave once in a while. Arranging flowers, remove weeds here and there and all the while softly talking to her husband. As if he was there. Maybe that's what Mary Magdalene and the other Mary wanted to do too, be close to Jesus, talk to him, visit a little bit. Find some comfort.

But instead they fell right into the next shock. And it must have been an electrifying shock: Suddenly there was a great earthquake for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like a lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

Brothers and sisters, what an incredible experience; unbelievable some might say. And I am sure, that's what the Pharisees said, as soon as they received note of the empty grave. They said: "This is not true!" Which is why Matthew not only tells us about the two women, but also about the Roman guards. They too witnessed the incredible things which happened that morning: They were standing at the grave, keeping watch, when Easter morning broke; with lightning and angels. And then their knees gave out and they passed out and sank to the ground as I certainly would have, if I had been there. You see, we confess that we believe in the resurrection of the dead, every Sunday, but just like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary we believe that this will happen sometime in the future, not now. And then to imagine that the future was happening right in front of our very eyes. And it isn't future any more and we are right in the middle.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary must have been so scared! But then they saw and heard the angel speak. Victoriously he sat on the huge rock which had locked the entrance of the grave just a few minutes before. He turned to the trembling women, saying: Do not be afraid: I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified." And then he goes on: "He is not here: for he has been raised, as he said."

And as if to proof the angel gestured the women to step forward and see for themselves the empty grave. He said: "come and see the place where he lay." And right away he gave them instructions: "Go quickly and tell his disciples: He has raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him. This is my message for you."

And what a message this is; the message of Easter, of this Easter morning, too. "Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!" From what Matthew tells us, the two women did not doubt these words one instant. They did not hesitate one moment. They didn't even have to look into the grave to make sure the angel was telling the truth. They were overwhelmed by fear and joy.

But joy won over and they turned around to ran as fast as they could to tell the disciples about the risen Jesus. And just as they turned around they even met Jesus. He greeted them as usual and now there was no fear nor horror any more. They fell down and touched him. And Jesus even talked to them, saying: "Do not be afraid." This is the second time, Mary and her friend are told not to be afraid that morning. But that's how Jesus talks to us: "Do not be afraid". You do not have to be afraid of me. I love you, no matter what.

Sisters and brothers, some theologians argue that the two verses about the women meeting Jesus were inserted into the gospel at a later date. They argue that the meeting of Jesus and the women is not necessary for the logic of the events and the flow of the story. That the women had been told of the resurrection by the angel and that his word was enough for them. And while I was writing this sermon I thought: actually this is a comforting thought. In order to believe in the resurrection, we don't have to lay eyes on the risen Jesus. But we are gathered on this Easter morning to hear the good news that the crucified has destroyed the power of death. And I think if to hear the good news from a witness was enough for the women in the gospel, it is enough for me, too. It is enough for me to say: I believe, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, so we may live with him.

For us as Christians death is not the end. It's not like a black whole drawing in our beloved relatives or friends for ever. Because Easter teaches us: Christ is risen, so we may live. Christ calls to live those who passed away, believing in him. We don't know, what this will be like, but we don't need to be afraid, that's for sure. Jesus keeps telling us so.
I remember a woman whose mother died very suddenly. They had loved each other dearly. And the woman told me that she still felt very close to her mother, as if she was "alive", she felt that there was still a connection between - though she knew very well, that her mother had passed away. She asked me, if I think that is right to fell this way. Yes, I think that it is – as the lady could still talk to her husband on the cemetery.
Because of Eastern we believe that death is not the end. That our deceased remain in the hands of God.

And with many various signs we show this belief.

Once a year I used to visit the local cemetery with my school children. First I gave them time to look at the graves and discover the signs of death. They showed me the crosses and the grave stones, the names that were written on them. Later I sent them to look for the signs of life and our faith in resurrection. And they always found a lot. The flowers of course, or signs engraved in the stones. One I particularly liked was the one that showed a huge sun rising behind a cross. On some of the stones they found angels that remind the families of the first witness of the resurrection.

The two Marys believed the angel. And ever since the generations of Christians have believed and witnessed that death is not the end. Yes we have to die, yes, we will mourn and grief, but that is not the end of the story. And the reason for it is this Easter morning. Knowing, that we can not fall out of God's hands – not in this world, nor in the world to come. For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Amen.


Nicene Creed: (Let us confess) Page 84

Prayers of the church:
Rejoicing in the wonder of new life in Jesus Christ,
Let us pray for the church, the world, and all of God's creation.

For the church, that built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, we may be witnesses of the hope revealed through his death and resurrection.
God of life: hear our prayer.

For your creation, that rocks and valleys, trees and plants and all living things may reflect your steadfast love.
God of life: hear our prayer.
For the world, that nations bound by the destructive forces of violence, injustice, and poverty may be opened to the peace, freedom, and richness that comes from you alone.
God of life: hear our prayer.

For the terrified, and those consumed by the mysteries and sufferings of this world, that they may receive consolation from the body of Christ.
God of life: hear our prayer.

For this assembly, that this festival day awaken us to the wonder of living, and send us out to those whose celebrating may be diminished by loneliness, illness, or grief.
God of life: hear our prayer.

For all who have died in the faith and for those who still journea on earth, that, buried with Christ in baptism, we may rise to sing the unending victory song.
God of life: hear our prayer.

Accept these prayers and the prayers of our hearts, O God, for the sake of the crucified and risen one, Jesus Christ, our redeemer.

Sharing the peace
The peace of the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us share the peace.


Offertory Prayer:
Creator of all, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth by the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate the resurrection, renew you gift of life within us. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. Amen.

The Great Thanksgiving
Holy, holy, holy
Words of Institution
The Lord's prayer
Lamb of God
The Distribution

Postcommunion canticle
Postcommunion prayer

P: Benediction

P: Blessings:
The Lord bless us and keep us.
The Lord make his face shine on us
And be gracious to us.
The Lord look upon uns with favor
And give us peace.


Go in peace, serve the Lord.

C: Thanks be to God.