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Sermon – April 16, 2017 - "Mary's Song"

A sermon preached at St. John's in Franklin, Massachusetts on the Sunday of the Resurrection, April 16, 2017 by the Rev. Deborah M. Woodward

Mary's Song

The Preacher: Alleluia. Christ is risen.

The People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia

I confess that I wrote two dreadful sermons.

One was about a worm, which you might hear someday, but not today.

The other, blessedly, you will never hear.

And then I gave up. I was totally preached out. It had, after all, been a long week.

Words fail me.

What shall I do?

So…I decided to sing instead.

I'm going to sing Mary's Song.This is not the song she brought into the garden. That would have been an “Ode to Sorrow.”

Rather, the song with which she left, an “Ode to Joy,” because he lives.

There are two other actors in this gospel drama, other than Jesus.They are John and Peter, but I am not going to sing their songs.

I don't even know their songs.

I don't know the song of John the Beloved Disciple

I have not been blessed with the profound intimacy shared by Jesus and John.It was because of this love that John knew that he is alive, even with no real evidence at all.That is a deep love song I don't yet know.

Nor am I going to sing Peter's song. Although I might recognize the tune. His is a song sung in a minor key, by a man still stung by thrice denying.A man who sees as John sees yet remains a blank. We know nothing of him this morning.

But Mary, we are more like Mary.

I will share her leaving song. This was completely unexpected as she walked dark and sad into the garden.

(The song belongs composers and lyricists Bill and Gloria Gaither.)

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know, I know, he holds the future.

And life is worth the living, just because he lives.”

Just four simple lines.

That's all it takes.

To celebrate the gifts of the resurrection.

Our Easter basket is sweet and full.

This was not so when she arrived.

We are may likely to share her story.

We have endured the long dark of Lent.

For us there have been those deceptive and tormenting days of disappearing false warmth.

Mary has seen the surprising days of this man and now imagines they might too have been false.

We all have walked the way of this Holy Week.

She too was there.

We all have come to this dark morning.

We have sung the sad songs of crucifixion.

“O sacred head sore wounded...”

And we too arrive here, with only a sad song to sing.

We come faithfully. So did she.

It is a matter of obligation.

And then, for us like Mary, it all changes.

Here, like Mary, we encounter HIM

We meet HIM in Scripture – the Word – the story, the greatest story – the tomb is empty.

We meet HIM in Each Other – the Body – Baptized into the Body of Christ.

We meet him in Bread and in Wine.

We edge out of our blind despair -

We speak the name of the Holy – Rabboni – Teacher – Lord – Alleluia.

Mary's song – that one we now can claim.

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know, I know, he holds the future.

And life is worth the living, just because he lives.”


It is simple.

This new song tells the whole story.

The gift of Easter is your future.Our tomorrows.

Your blessed, fear free, miraculous future.

  • Freedom from fear.
  • Freedom from death.
  • Freedom from judgment
  • Freedom from Fear

AND

Freedom from Doubt

  • Doubt of self.
  • Doubt of one's own blessed worth.
  • Doubt of one's purpose.
  • Doubt of one's adequacy.

The gift of Easter is your very worth.

Our sacred identity

We have been created worthy of this miracle.

And our future is worth while.

Your life is worth living.

The gifts...

  • Freedom
  • Confidence
  • even Certainty

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know, I know, he holds the future.

And life is worth the living, just because he lives.”

I might dare to say that this is a song of kingdom come…

Because to live un-afraid is heavenly.

Life becomes ...

  • Adventure,
  • Opportunity,
  • Possibility.
  • Life becomes joy.

This become true, “At all times, and in all places.” This becomes true in hard times and in dark places. Always, our life is lived and his light shines.

  • Freedom
  • Confidence
  • Joy

The gifts of this miraculous, cosmic, trans-galactic miracle, his life for our life…

At all times and in all places.

  • Courage to face into the future
  • Certainty that life is worth the living,
  • And worth the dying.

The gifts

  • Freedom
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Joy

All in four lines of one schmaltzy song.

The chutzpah to your own best resurrected self.

For we,also, are risen to new life. Born anew.

Those words, shared with Nicodemus, who came at night, now shine in our shared daylight.

He and we, born anew.

This is what they saw in the resurrected Jesus.

Even more than they had seen before, they saw the perfection of his being.

Born anew.

Untouchable?

That is what this day offers- for us also

On this day we dare to approach the true wonder of who we are,

Each and every one of us.

Born anew.

We need no longer be what others might wish us to be, or call us to be, or tell us to be.

Today we receive the gift of freedom to be our best true selves, because he holds and defines the future.

This is true even in a world where the powers of crucifixion still abide.

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know, I know, he holds the future.

And life is worth the living, just because he lives.”

I could say to you, “believe it” - “believe this.”

Some preachers might. But I will not.

Instead, I will say, “try it.”“Try it on.”

Sing the song.

When, you leave, sing.

Don’t worry if you are not yet like John, the beloved disciple, a man so intimate with Jesus that he got it right away.

Leave Peter be. He'll get there.

Thank God. Thank the gospel for Mary. Her journey from tears to joy was pretty compact. Only a few verses, and we all may need to be patient with the process of our own faith.

Nevertheless, leave this place, singing her song.

It is worth singing, off key is fine.

It is worth risking to claim the gifts.

The mandate of the morning is,“Live” “born anew” and you will be the brave, joyful bearer of kingdom goodness you are meant to be.

Sing the song. Start today

Because he lives…

AMEN

Saint John’s Episcopal Church

237 Pleasant StreetFranklin, MA 02038508.528.2387stjohns.franklin@verizon.netParish Profile