Ending or Beginning? – April 21

VIDEO – “Not the End”

(click on caret to listen to the sermon)

Ending or Beginning?
John 20:1-18

Rev. Laura Brewster

Mary Magdalene Faces an Ending
Mary Magdalene’s life unraveled on Friday, when Jesus, her friend and teacher had been executed. When Sunday morning dawned, Mary was still reeling. Life as she knew it had ended, and she could not fathom how she was supposed to put her life back together again and move forward.

We Face Endings in Life Too
You may have felt that way yourself at some point in time. You may even be feeling that way today. Maybe you are experiencing grief because a loved one has died or a relationship has ended. Maybe your professional life is unraveling and you’re not sure how to chart a new course. Maybe you are older and you no longer command the respect you once did, and you feel pushed aside. We all experience endings during the course of life, some more difficult than others.

When Bad Goes to Worse
Mary was already struggling early Easter morning as a result of the endings which she was facing. But what seemed bad soon turned to worse. When Mary Magdalene finally arrived at the tomb on that first Easter, she was shocked to discover that the tomb in which Jesus had been placed had been opened. Mary immediately assumed that Jesus’ body has been stolen. She informed Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. They came and confirmed that Jesus’ body was missing and then they left. Mary stayed and wept for Jesus, for herself, for everything that had been lost, for all that had ended.

Endings Can Lead to Beginnings
Mary was at rock bottom early that Easter because of all the “endings” in her life. However, she would soon make a welcome discovery: an ending can lead to a new beginning. Natalie Sleeth makes this point in her song “Hymn of Promise.” The song includes these lines: In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be, unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. Sleeth wrote the song for her dying husband as a way of reminding him that he would experience a new beginning, a new life after his death. Again, what we see perceive to be an ending can become a springboard for a new possibility, a new opportunity, a new way of life. Mary would discover that when she learned that Jesus had risen from the dead.

The Good News of Easter
On Easter, we celebrate that Jesus was raised from the dead and that we too can be raised to new and eternal life when our earthly life comes to an end. But the good news of Easter is not limited to what will happen when we die. Easter also offers good news for life here and now. First, Easter faith reminds us that our Lord is with us even when we are struggling and feel alone. He’s with us just as he was with Mary. Jesus has promised never leave us or forsake us. We may not always recognize his presence, but he is nonetheless present. Second, Easter reminds us that when our strength is exhausted and we can do no more, our God is still at work. The evidence of God’s work is not always immediately apparent. But Easter teaches us that God is at work even when the world seems dark. For that reason, there is always hope.

Endings and obstacles are a part of life in this world. However, what seems like a dead end can become a new beginning, a new beginning made possible by the ever-present love and power of God.

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