We begun our service with the sanctuary darkened, the stain-glass windows covered, and the items of the crucifixion central to our space; in silence, those were removed while symbols of the Resurrection were brought in.
I led the congregation in a Thanksgiving for/Reminder of our Baptism, while in all black; afterwards, I put on the alb (the white robe).
This was all symbolic of our texts for “He is Risen! He has Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”.
Matthew’s account (chapter 28), Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb to fulfil their responsibility to care for, to anoint the body. The men are hidden away in a dark room fearful of what the future holds. Now, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary would not have been in any more or less danger than those (male) disciples.
The women went to the tomb expecting to come face-to-face with death, which is always uncomfortable, instead they are greeted by an angel. They experience the Risen Lord, whom they grab ahold of and worship.
Our Colossians 3 text is about setting our minds on higher, more heavenly, things [and] not things of this earth. It echoes that we are “in this world but not of this world”. Yet, each time we focus our minds on higher, more heavenly, things there is a great temptation and risk to let it divide us, set us apart from our neighbor, and place us on a pedestal of self-righteousness. But, if we look at it in light of the darkened tomb and the Resurrection, as well as our Acts 10 texts, we get a different side.
Acts 10 is part of a larger story, where Peter has a divine revelation. A sheet comes forth from heaven full of yummy animals that he is not to eat as good, law-abiding Jewish practitioner. He tells the Lord “Never (will I eat these). These things are unclean. They will never pass through my lips.” God tells him “do not call unclean that which I have made clean”. [Then] Peter encounters a gentile man, a God-fearer, who wishes for himself and his household to be baptized. Peter does so and has to defend it with the other disciples.
When we truly set our minds on heavenly things, we take our sin/our selfishness/our self-centeredness (instead of being in a darkened room being fearful of exposure) and place it in the tomb with Christ; what comes forth is new life, a deeper connection to our neighbor and to God in love and service.
Much like the early [Christians], who got a white robe after passing through the waters of baptism as a reminder that they have been made clean. They have been made new. They have been made whole. So each day we are called to lay our sin, our selfishness, [and] our self-centeredness in the tomb. We are called to drown it with the waters of baptism, in order that we may be raised/resurrected as a new creation with new life in love, in service, seeking justice through compassion and mercy.
Let us each day die to the self and be resurrected into a new creation ready to love and serve all people. Amen.
The scriptures were Acts 10:34-43, Colossians 3: 1-4, and Matthew 28: 1-10.
The sermon was originally preached on 16 April 2017 at Gloria Dei Lutheran, Kelso WA.