Going Deeper 4-21-19

Christ is risen!  (He is risen indeed! Alleluia)
From our reading from John’s Gospel, these words: Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.  As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.  They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"  Thus far our text.
Grace to you—to each and every one of you—grace and peace from God our Abba Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Risen Christ.  Amen.
Mary stood weeping… There was some weeping going on right here last week.  And there’s been more weeping during this week me and for my family as we released young Gabriel into the care of others…and more importantly into God’s hands.  Some weeping may tarry for a while.
I personally have not done a whole lot of weeping… at least in my adult life.  I have been told that I was a little crybaby as a child.  I guess I decided to stop being a crybaby, and as an adult I haven’t cried enough.  The place where I do tend to cry the most in right here.
How about you?  I know for a fact that many of you have had good reason to weep… over the passing of loved ones, over the serious illness of children or other family members, or of good friends.  Some of you have wept over your own health issues.  Others may have wept over broken relationships or lost jobs.
And there are other kinds of sadness, other causes of weeping.  Some may be filled with guilt and remorse for the brokenness of your own life.  Perhaps you have fallen hard.  Still others weep because of pain inflicted upon them by others or within a badly broken family system, or find themselves working through bouts of depression, or are deeply saddened by the horrible brokenness they see in others and in our too often darkened world.
There may be some of us who’ve sought to enter the story of Jesus’ passion during this season of Lent, and now find ourselves weeping with Mary over the horrific suffering and death of Jesus.
Weeping is a part of life… and if you are like me you find yourself determined to not weep because you think it shows weakness.  If so, well, let’s knock it off!  Weeping is healthy and often it reflects a heart filled with compassion and concern for others and for this world.
Some people have given the mistaken impression that sorrow and weeping have no place among God’s children, that our lives as Christians are all happy, happy, joy, joy.  That’s just plain bunk.  It is bunk because our lives are not at all pain or problem fee.  We’ll still encounter reasons to mourn and weep, sometimes reasons to even fear and tremble.  We will also weep and mourn as our hearts become more and more like the heart of Jesus, filled with true love and compassion and sometimes empathy for others.  
As children of God we will still have trouble and hardship.  What is different is the way we respond to and within the brokenness.  As a matter of fact, maturity teaches us that God can and does work through the pain and does bring healing to brokenness, and with that always brings a blessing to us or through us. 
The Psalmist wrote: “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”  A pastor I served with years ago said something that has always stuck with me: “God did not promise to make things easier; God promised to make things Easter.”  Just when things seem to be darkest the light of God’s powerful love and grace break through and bring victory and light.  With Mary, we stand outside the tomb weeping, only to discover that the tomb is empty and our Savior and Friend, Jesus the risen Christ, is right beside us, calling out to us.
My friends, the death and resurrection of Jesus changes everything!  As children of God, we have come to trust that what might appear to others as lingering darkness and defeat are in truth only temporary.  “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”  As we sing often here, if we are hurting and broken within, overwhelmed by the weight of our sin, Jesus is calling.  
And if we are faced with situations that cause us fear, we do well to remember what Zach Williams expresses in his song, “Fear-- He is a Liar”… When he told you you're not good enough, When he told you you're not right, When he told you you're not strong enough, to put up a good fight.  When he told you you're not worthy, when he told you you're not loved, when he told you you're not beautiful, that you'll never be enough...  Fear, he is a liar.  He will take your breath, stop you in your steps.  Fear he is a liar.  He will rob your rest, steal your happiness. Cast your fear in the fire… 'Cause fear, he is a liar.
When he told you were troubled, you'll forever be alone.  When he told you you should run away, you'll never find a home.  When he told you you were dirty, and you should be ashamed, When he told you you could be the one that grace could never change… Fear, he is a liar.  He will take your breath, stop you in your steps.  Fear he is a liar, He will rob your rest, steal your happiness… Cast your fear in the fire.  'Cause fear he is a liar.
The joyous truth of Easter is this: sin, guilt, fear, death, and the powers of darkness… each and every one of these enemies have been defeated once and for all.   Not only will dark and rainy days always give way to sunshine and warmth, in time they will also produce truly wonderful, beautiful growth.  
Yes, it is true… on Calvary Jesus was crucified, but Satan got nailed.  Yes, it was dark and the earth shook at the moment of Jesus’ death, but also at that moment the curtain in the Jerusalem behind which was the Holy of Holies, believed to be the dwelling place of God, was torn in two from top to bottom.  There is nothing now that divides us from the presence of God.
In times of pain and suffering and darkness and weeping, always remember: the tomb is empty and your loving Savior is right there with you.
Christ is risen!  (He is risen indeed! Alleluia)