Letting Go

Dad and son on bike with training wheelsSermon: “Letting Go”
Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA
Easter, April 20 2014.

Scripture readings:
Acts 10:34-43 (from “The Message”)
John 20:1-18 
 (from “The Message”)

As you know, I often speak of the many ways God holds on to us, and how we are called to claim Jesus for our own, and called to hold on to Christ and to God’s love. But, Easter is not about holding on!

Let us pray… 

Lord, on this Easter morning, we celebrate your victory over death, and with it your promise of new life in our own futures. Open the scriptures before us, and enable me to clearly communicate what you intend for us to receive here today.  May your gospel live within each and every one of us, driving all despair and fear from our hearts.

We rejoice in this opportunity for new revelations and a deeper understanding of your call to walk before you, spreading your gospel to all nations. We ask that your Word live and work through us to amaze and transform not only our own lives, but the lives of all whom we encounter.  Help us to embody your teachings, and to live them, in all that we do, think, speak, and are.  

In Jesus Name, Amen.

It’s Easter. At the start of our reading from John this morning, Mary Magdalene is alone in the predawn light, weeping before the empty tomb. The mortal remains of the man she loves are missing. Although she doesn’t know it yet, Jesus has been set free from the bonds of death.

As I said earlier, Easter is not about holding on. John makes this clear by telling us that once Mary realizes who is standing before her, Jesus says, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

It seems that holding on to Jesus frustrates the plan of God! Jesus the man is again alive, just like Lazarus; but the transformation of the man into the Christ is not yet complete. Jesus is still in the process of as he puts it, of “ascending to my God and your God.

Mary is given a role in this when he says, “Go to my brothers and tell them….” Her mission involves leaving him behind and carrying his message to all who believe. Her task is to let go, to forever turn away from the man she loves.

I imagine this was very hard for Mary. He was lost, and now he’s found. He was dead, but is alive again. Her arms ache to hold on to the man she loves, the man she’d given up as forever lost. What would happen when she turned her back to leave? Would she ever see him again? She must have asked herself whether her heart could bear losing him again. Turning away was a big risk.

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The Great Escape

Presented at Sudbury (MA) Memorial Church, UCC on October 14, 2012.
Scriptures: Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Mark 10:17-31

A youtube video of the sermon…

The most painful day of my life was Friday, May 4th, 1991.  In the week leading up to that dark day, everything in my life had exploded – marriage, job, finances – a perfect storm.  I felt the only way out was to escape from it all, I needed peace, I needed help.

So, I bundled myself and my then two year old daughter into my car, to escape for a time to safety in Chicago and figure out what to do. As I drove along, the darkness and turmoil within me was echoed by the magnificent, terrible thunderhead I saw ahead of us as we descended down Minnesota’s bluffs to cross the Mississippi River. It was huge: threatening, dark, turbulent; yet before it was the most beautiful, intense, double rainbow I’d ever seen: brilliant against the angry blackness ahead as the late afternoon sun sank behind us.

We caught up with that storm just after the sun set, and it was the worst storm I’ve ever experienced. Rain was coming down so hard that my windshield wipers were bending under the force of the water. I crept along the highway, my headlights struggling to pierce the stormy darkness, hoping to find refuge, somewhere.  But we were alone: no one else was challenging the storm that night.

Continue reading “The Great Escape”