Thoughts on the Word:
This week I have missed writing again - I have been to heavily focused on writing assignments for my B. Theology! Instead of my ramblings I provide for you a Sermon from Carl A. Voges. I got this sermon from here. You can have my rantings and ravings again next week :)
Sermon on John 20:1-2,11-18, by Carl A. Voges
"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid them...'"
"...But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.' She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."' Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord' - and that he had said these things to her." [English Standard Version]
"But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people." [Acts 13.30]
In the Name of Christ + Jesus our Lord
As the Gospel readings have poured into our hearing during the month of July, the Lord's people have been exposed to a wide range of the Son's ministry in the world. There was the healing of the synagogue ruler's daughter and of the woman with a bleeding condition. Then we were confronted with Jesus' rough reception in his hometown and the sending of the twelve disciples. This past Sunday we encountered the killing of John the Baptist. This Sunday we were scheduled to see Jesus teaching and healing the crowds who are swarming to him.
Today, however, we are pausing in the journey through Mark's Gospel to observe the Day of Mary Magdalene. The Church does not know her birth date or death date but she is honored on 22 July in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches.
This honor is triggered by the exposure she had to Jesus' Life as well as to her participation in his ministry. Today's observance enables us to see how a saint from more than two thousand years ago can stir us to be faithful reflectors of the Lord's Life, a reflecting made difficult and tense by the realities of sin, Satan and death.
We live in a world where people, for numerous reasons, are always being drawn to individuals who stand out. These people come to us from movies and plays, from television and sports, from politics and business. Sometimes these people stand out for good reasons; there are other times, though, when they stand out for wrong reasons. The Lord's people are aware of such individuals and may even find themselves trying to imitate them, but with a significant twist - they don't invest their entire life in such persons!
Such investment, however, is stirred when a person such as Mary comes into our lives. She shifts our natural thinking from the matters of this world to the Lord God who crossed her life and who drew her into the Life that was being displayed in the Son's ministry. The Life that drew her in is imbedded in eternity and was shown most clearly in the Son's crucifixion and resurrection.
Mary was from the city of Magdala on the northwest side of the Lake of Galilee about seven miles to the southwest of Capernaum. The city was an important agricultural, fishing, fish-curing, shipbuilding and trading center. It was able to generate considerable wealth for its inhabitants. Biblical scholars have noted that the population was predominantly non-Jewish because there is evidence of an oval stadium for horse and chariot races. Later rabbis concluded that the city disappeared because of its lack of legal, sexual and moral restraint, achieving a dubious reputation for itself.
We do not know when or where Jesus met Mary. It is not said in the Scriptures that he visited Magdala, though its geographic location put him in nearby areas where he was teaching and healing, preaching and restoring. It does appear that Mary was one of the more prominent Galilean women who followed Jesus. Luke 8 states that seven demons had been driven out of her by Jesus as he made his way through Galilee with the twelve disciples. Matthew 27 describes Mary's presence at the crucifixion. The presence at the crucifixion is reinforced by Mark 15 along with the comment that she and other women followed Jesus in Galilee and ministered to him.
Her participation in Jesus' ministry comes to a startling conclusion in today's Gospel as she is moved from thinking that Jesus' crucified body has been stolen to recognizing that Jesus has been raised from the dead and is poised to ascend to the Father.
As John recounts that day, Mary has come to the tomb first and, seeing that the stone has been moved, tells Simon Peter and the beloved disciple that the Lord has been taken from the tomb. Both disciples go into the tomb, see the body's wrappings and, believing, go back home. Mary, though, stands outside the tomb, weeping and peering into it. Observing two angels in there, they ask why she's weeping. She says it's because her Lord has been taken away and she doesn't know where they took him.
Having said this, she turns around and catches sight of Jesus standing there. However, she does not realize it is Jesus. He asks her why she's weeping and for whom is she looking. Thinking he's gardener for this area, she states that if he is the one who carried Jesus' body off, she wants to know where he has been placed so she can take him away. At that point, the non-recognition begins to give way to recognition when Jesus speaks her name. She responds by calling him Rabboni (Teacher)! Jesus orders her to not cling to him because he has not yet ascended to the Father. But he tells her to go to his brothers and explain the coming ascension to them. The passage concludes with Mary going to the disciples, stating that she has seen the Lord and reporting what he said to her.
This is a startling story, one that can lead to a great deal of speculation as one tries to fill in apparent gaps or to fit the details with Jesus' appearances to others. However, it is better to resist those temptations and remain grounded in John's account. This makes it easier for us to see how Mary serves as a model for our lives and the Church's life.
Even though we don't know her birth date or her death date, we do know that she was gripped by seven demons. The number probably expresses how intense and serious her situation was. Demon possession at that time could reflect all kinds of sickness - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. It is interesting that the biblical writings do not tell us how Jesus rid her of those demons. The point is that his Life crossed hers and she was rescued from them.
This reminds us of the grip on our lives by the unholy trio of sin, Satan and death. As soon as we are born into this world, that grip begins squeezing us. It stirs up all sorts of mayhem, it unleashes all kinds of trouble and difficulty. It is a grip that does not let go until we pass through death. Or until our Lord's Life crosses our own! Mary had exposure to him as one person to another. We have exposure to him through the Scriptures and the Sacraments of Baptism, Forgiveness and Eucharist which he has gifted to the Church. This is a basic understanding in Lutheran tradition and practice. But the unholy trio blunts the cutting edge of those holy places.
For example, how many of the Lord's people are mindful of the date they were baptized? A lot or a few? How many of the Lord's people belong to parish communities where they can take part in the Eucharist Sunday after Sunday? A lot or a few? How many of the Lord's people are aware that his Word streams only from the Scriptures, and that its activity consists of breaking us loose from the grip of the world's life so we can restored to the grasp of the Son's crucified and resurrected Life? A lot or a few? Finally, how many of the Lord's people belong to parish communities where they can confess their sin privately and be gifted with the Lord's forgiveness? A lot or a few?
These realities should stir us into taking people like Mary more seriously as a model for our lives in the Holy Trinity. It was his rescue of her that stirred her to faithfully follow him. It is his rescue of us that stirs us to follow him faithfully and honestly. However, because the unholy trio dulls the edge of that rescue so much, we would rather follow those people in the world who happen to be standing out right now.
My friends, let's not go down that road! Yes, it is attractive and it promises us much meaning and satisfaction. But that attraction and promise is a cruel delusion. The world's models will toy with us, they will crunch our lives so its natural mayhem will increase, they will continue to work on us so that we take a walk from the Lord who baptized us.
Because the realities of sin, Satan and death are always distracting and stressing us, they have us scrambling to find the god we so desperately need. What's happens to us is what happened to Mary - the Lord God finds us! Today he finds us through the holy places that stream from our parishes throughout the world.
In these holy places is where his Life crosses ours, in them is where we see our rescue from death, in them is where we are drawn into the Life that comes from and pushes into eternity. From these places is where we can walk into the destruction and death of the world's life, pointing to the Cross that has pierced such realities. From them is where a person's life in the Holy Trinity is continually deepened.
We observe Mary's life today to be reminded of the Lord's saving and sustaining activity. We observe the lives of all the Lord's saints for the same reason. We are deeply thankful to the Lord for transforming such individuals so they can be models for us as we reflect his Life to an absorbed, confused and anxious world .
Now may the peace of the Lord God, which is beyond all understanding, keep our hearts and minds through Christ + Jesus our Lord.
This sermon was taken from : http://www.predigten.uni-goettingen.de/predigt.php?id=3663&kennung=20120722en