Good Friday seemed a much better day for such things,
But now we have to get ready for Easter
I never thought I would think this, but could not just have a few more days of Good Friday
I prefer honest misery, to artificial joy.
The First Easter
There are two things that I want to say about Easter,
The first is it is about seeing the whole of creation: the old creation and the new creation.
Because it is a challenge not see a little hole of reality, like looking out a burkha
But to have our eyes widened and to see the whole of it, the creation, and the new creation.
The second thing I want to think about this morning is that profound way that Jesus comes to a woman who weeps.
If you want two words = the first part seeing, the second part weeping.
So let us look at the first part of the story,
And it become a story about things that do not quite add up.
Mary comes to the tomb early on the first day of the week, whilst it is still dark.
Now that “first day of the week” and whilst it is very dark, is very important,
There is a thing going on here where John is making a reference,
You get this all the time, in films, for example in High School Musical, which is about two people falling in love from rival gangs, there is a balcony scene which makes you think about another play where there is a balcony.
More obvious is the scene in Toy Story 2 where Buzz Lightyear and Zorg are fighting, and Buzz Lightyear says to Zorg “you killed my father” and Zorg says “Buzz, I am your father”, and then Buzz falls away going “noooooo”
And this is a reference to the Empire Strikes Back
John is making a reference to it being dark on the first day, is a reference to Genesis,
And if you think I am reading too much into things,
John does this all the time, he starts his book with saying “In the beginning”
And all the time he is talking about dark and light, and way that you are to read more into this than simply, “you’ll need a torch outside”.
Or the moment where Judas betrays Jesus, and John adds “So after receiving the morsel of bread he went out” and “it was night”
So John is nudging us here “It was dark and it was the first day of the week”
Any clues what I might be referring to here?
Aaagh, yes, this is a second creation story, a new creation
Something profoundly new and different is happening in the whole of the universe
The Christian faith, the whole of being has two grounding points
One was 13 billion years ago when the whole thing went bang
And the second was about 1,984 when on the first day of the week when it was still dark Mary went to the tomb
And John is saying don’t just live in the first of those realities,
You have to live in the second as well
The reality of the New Creation where God who loves us with us
And dead people don’t stay dead.
Mary goes to the tomb and she sees the stoned moved.
Now this is upsetting, because in the Old Creation that is a sign of grave robbery
In the New Creation this is a sign of resurrection.
But she runs away, back to the disciples, and two of them come running
Peter and John
And they have a running race and the beloved disciple wins
This is the only running race in the Bible, and I am sure John is hinting again
Peter who sees at the moment like Old Creation, he is beaten
By Beloved Disciple who will in a moment spot the New Creation
So the moral of that particular verse is that if you want to run faster
Believe in the New Creation
Which is not completely daft, because a week tomorrow, at the 20 mile mark I may well be praying quite hard, and remembering the New Creation.
So Peter, Genesis only, Big bang only, what you see is all there is Peter,
Goes in and he sees folded grave clothes and the face cloths in a place by itself
That is it, interesting.
But Beloved Disciple, Beloved Disciple who sees beyond the surface,
First Creation and New Creation
He goes in and sees the grave clothes, and the face cloth by itself
And he saw and (verse 8)
There is something more going on here than grave robbery
We are in the New Creation and in the New Creation dead people are raised.
Now let us just back up a bit here, and think about the subtlety of this.
Imagine there was a committee meeting in heaven – I am using an image here, heaven doesn’t work like that,
But imagine the angels were trying to give God suggestions for how he might intimate to the disciples that the New Creation had begun.
The suggestions might have been firstly for a mind blowing, unmistakeable Jesus appearance
Not just at the graveside, but above the skies of Jerusalem, enough for the disciples to see, for Pilate to see, for the Chief Priests to see.
Or perhaps just to the disciples, and some fireworks thrown in for good measure.
But no, God opts for the suggestion of the angel who said “graveclothes”
We want the world to know that there is not a Creation version 2.0
A creation version 2.0 where God is with his people
Where dead people do not stay dead
Where in all the dimensions of the world, there is a place called heaven and it is nearer
That the people of God are sharing in a destiny together now where they are not just one nation but also one body
And we want them to know that through grave clothes
In the new Creation the people of God are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
They have the Holy Spirit inside them to guide them and change them,
They have the forgiveness of their sins, so at the end of time God turns to everyone who has trusted in him, no matter their sins, the depth of their guilt,
And says to each one of them that they are justified
To each one, “not guilt”, “not guilty”, “not guilty”
And that in this God makes know the mystery of his will
That in Jesus he will unite all things, things in heaven and things on earth
And there is going to be a day when Jesus appears
And heaven descends
And every tear is wiped from every eye, and God is with his people
And this happens in the new Creation, and the way that this is going to be announced is graveclothes.
If you wanted a smaller, more subtle demonstration of the resurrection, I could not imagine it,
What is God doing here?
It seems to be the nature of God that he be discovered in the small.
I think there are reasons, that this gives us space to encounter him, to know him
Rather than being blown out the water
God wants to be loved, not simply impressive.
God seems to want us to hunt for newness in the most delicate of clues,
To tread carefully,
Not to blow us away with fireworks, but to meet us in small things.
And the implication of the small thing is enormous.
I want us to feel for that subtle delicate change there
That the outward realities of you life did not change at dawn this morning
The relationships that you struggle with – still there
The body you have, for your friends, for your family, still there
The money problem you have – still there
The career uncertainties – still there
All that still there
But peer beneath the reality of you life
Beyond first creation, beyond Genesis
To new creation
God is with you, you are loved, there is new life
Life is not destroyed by the death you most fear
There is something else, the new creation penetrates small things
It is smaller than a quark when it needs to be
The New Creation covers clothes, and folded linen
It covers small words, small movements of the tongue
The turn of the head to give to someone our eyes
The step of courage into a difficult place, where believe newness can happen
And it deals with all that we worry about
The health of a child not yet born
The outcome of the a meeting
The size of our overdraft
The busy-ness of our overdraft
The coldness of a marriage
The state of someone’s mind.
All these places, the marriage, the womb, the mind, the meeting
All our sites of resurrection as was a tomb
And New Creation transforms, goes beyond First Creation
Look at your life
And I guess I want us to look at our lives this morning
And think, “How is my life different if Jesus is risen from the dead?”
How is your financial life different if Jesus is risen from the dead
How is your emotional life different if Jesus is risen from the dead
What is the pain that will be bearable if Jesus is risen from the dead
What is your career like if Jesus is risen from the dead
What is your family situation like if Jesus is risen from the dead.
Feel for this, he is risen
And discovered by those who weep
And utterly, utterly changed is the universe
And the sign of it is very subtle
Some graveclothes that have failed to keep hold of a body
Christ is Risen
He is Risen Indeed
Now leave here, and in the all the small things, let your life not be the same
For he has risen indeed.