Getting Ready for Sunday by The Rev. Erin Jean Warde

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From George Herber's poem "Easter" 

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But though was up by break of day,
And brought'st thy sweets along with thee.

Sunday March 27, Easter Sunday Year C—John 20:1-18

In the gospel of John’s account of the resurrection, Mary finds herself at the food of the tomb, grieving over the loss of Jesus.  We can imagine that she might be coming to the tomb this early morning as a part of thechevra kadisha, or the group of faithful Jewish people who prepare bodies for burial.  In Jewish belief, cleansing a body meant being made unclean, and by being made unclean one would place themselves on the margins of the power structure of their world, at least until they experienced the ritual cleansing that would restore them to wholeness once again.  Regardless of social rank, we can also imagine that this uncleanliness is a mark Mary is willing to take in order to honor the life and ministry of the Jesus that she loves and that she grieves.  This explains the shock of finding an empty tomb, and then telling the other disciples about his missing body.  In the very first part of today’s gospel, the disciples and Mary all see that the body of Christ is no longer in its tomb, and all but Mary are said to have believed, but then returned to their home.

Mary stays, and weeps.  I imagine her grief, as she realizes that the last act of honor she had prepared to give him, the act of cleansing his body for burial, has been taken from her.  As she talks back and forth with the angels, and the mysterious gardener whom she cannot recognize, she continues to ask and ask again for the body of Jesus.  It is possible that she is so blinded by a great desire for closure that could come through cleansing his body, that she cannot recognize Jesus standing in front of her.  Finally, Jesus calls her by name, and she knows who he truly is.  We see here a focus throughout the gospels: that while Jesus is focused on heavenly things, it is a struggle for Mary and for the disciples to see the truth of heavenly things.  In that moment, her focus was on his dying body, but finally she sees that he stands before her resurrected.  Additionally, she does not encounter the dead body of Christ that will make her unclean, and instead is made whole through his resurrected presence.

When Jesus enters the world as the resurrected Christ, he shows up first to Mary, a woman on the margins of society.  Just as he did in his ministry prior to death and resurrection, he calls the least of these to be the ministers of the gospel.  It is significant that in John’s account of the Easter story, it is a woman who proclaims the resurrection of Christ.  The words “Alleluia, Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia, Alleluia!” are uttered first by Mary, and through her ministry that truth is heard throughout the regions.

The Rev. Erin Jean Warde is the Associate Rector for Christian Formation at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration-Dallas.


Posted by The Rev. Erin Jean Warde with

Getting Ready for Sunday: By the Rev. David Miller

Luke 19:28-40 & Luke 22:14 - 23:56

We’ve come to Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. This year we read from Luke’s Gospel. Like all the Gospel writers, Luke has a particular way of interpreting what Jesus says about himself. “The Rival Kingdoms” is the way I summarize Luke’s interpretation.

What does it mean to be a king? What is the true nature of authority or kingship? Luke gives us the answer to these questions. First, he tells us that Jesus enters Jerusalem as a king in the very manner the prophet Zechariah foretold: “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). Jesus does indeed come to Jerusalem as a king, but he does it in a way that’s so unlike worldly kings. Notice, Jesus does not come riding a stallion, charging his way into Jerusalem. He does not come as a warrior full of military pomp. Yet, the people respond to Jesus as they would a king: “the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’”

The multitude declares that Jesus is a king. All well and good, but what is the nature of Jesus’ kingdom? As Luke’s version of the narrative unfolds we get the answer. Jesus says to his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” The act of sharing a meal with Jesus is an identifying mark of his kingship, for Jesus is the Eucharistic King. And notice that he likes to eat with all the wrong people. His open table fellowship marks his life and ministry.

Unlike the kingdoms of this world, which thrive on division, separation, and fragmentation, Jesus is an ingatherer. He begins by gathering the scattered tribes of Israel (his choosing twelve disciples emphasizes this point), but his final purpose is to gather people from all the nations of the earth into Eucharistic fellowship. This fellowship, which is inclusive of Jew and Gentile alike, is the nature of his kingdom. It is a kingdom of peace not of violence, of self-giving love not of hate. And it’s a kingdom constantly at odds with the kingdoms of this world.

No sooner has Jesus explained the nature of his kingdom than an argument breaks out among the disciples: “A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” The disciples have missed the point of what Jesus is saying. They’re preoccupied with worldly power, and so are we. Let’s be honest. We’ve all traveled the same road, wanting to be the “greatest.” From the playground to the water cooler the same preoccupation plays itself out with questions like, “Who’s the best?” “Who’s the greatest?” “Who’s the smartest?” “Who’s more powerful?” But these questions proceed from the wrong sort of competiveness; its bitter root is pride, which is the fuel of the kingdoms of this world.

Seeing that his disciples have fallen prey to pride, Jesus corrects them: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.” We’ve heard these words a thousand times, but do we really take them seriously? Jesus says that the greatest among us is the one who serves. What does it mean to be great? What does it mean to live a successful life? The kingdoms of this world answer, “It’s the will to power! It’s the will to dominate!” Jesus blithely turns this answer on its head. Greatness and success in his kingdom belong to the one who serves.

Despite our resolve to live in Jesus’ kingdom, we will always be tempted by the kingdoms of this world: “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus knows that his disciples will fail. He knows that we will fail. Worldly forms of power will lure us, and we will fall victim to them. We’re all sinners. But the glorious news is that, in Jesus, God has forgiven us all our sins by nailing them to the cross!

Through Jesus’ self-giving love, God has forgiven us. And in Eucharistic fellowship, Jesus strengthens, renews, and welcomes us again and again to find our place as servants in his kingdom. And what of the kingdoms of this world? Will they win the day? They will not! God has disarmed their “rulers and authorities and made a public example of them by triumphing over them” in the cross of Jesus Christ” (Col. 2:15). Thanks be to God!

The Rev. David Miller is Canon of Young Adult Ministry and Adult Christian Formation at St. Matthew’s Cathedral




This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.