Sermons 2003-2004

It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

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Easter 2004C Luke 24:1-10; John 20:11-18

Saint Luke's Gospel continues with 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.e: (Luke 24:1112)

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to looks into the tomb; 12and 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. 13They
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." 14When she had said this, she
turned around and Sc;tw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looKing for?" 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." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, b "Rabbounil" (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because 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.'" 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)

"But these words seemed to them an idle tale." Every other month or so it seems, Time newsmagazine, or Newsweek, or US News have an article about Jesus. Even Public Broadcasting System - PBS Frontline - has weighed in with an excellent scholarly discussion of Jesus. And they got it right in their title: "From Jesus to Christ." Most recently Peter Jennings and CBS aired a special on Jesus during, of course, Holy Week, when Television viewers would be highly inclined to spend several hours on this rather than the sopranos or what ever. Book atter book, magazine article atter magazine article, movie atter movie in the last half century, all try to tell us just who this Jesus was. And as Beth Williams' excellent presentations during Lent brought home, artists, too, over the centuries have sought to answer that question. From Saint Paul's letters and the Gospel writers through the before and atter Nicene Creed Church Fathers, through Thomas Aquinas to the Protestant Reformers from Jonathan Edwards in the Eighteenth Century to the recent Jesus Seminar in the Twentieth, whole libraries have been devoted to finding out who Jesus was. Or, more properly, is! Next time you are in Richmond or Northern Virginia, just drive through Union Theological Seminary or Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and just see how large the library buildings are.

But the truth is that to pin Jesus down as being this or being that is only to place him back into some kind of tomb, to put him in a box of our own making and not God's. When we pretend that we know just who Jesus is, we simply domesticate him to be the person we need him to be and close him up in another tomb of our own imagining. (1)

But the movies and the paintings and the articles and the books keep coming. Why, do you suppose it is, that what the disciples initially thought was an idle tale continues to cause such immense effort?

In The Challenge of Jesus, John Shea wrote that "The only excuse, and a lame one at that, for another book on Jesus is that we are never quite through with him. When the last syllable of the last word about Jesus the Christ has been spoken, a small, balding man who until now has been silent, will say, 'Just a moment, I.' After two thousand years
people still journey to Jesus. They bring a vaunting ego and last year's scar, one unruly hope and several debilitating fears, an unwanted joy and a hesitant heart-and ask Jesus what to make of it. We have only gradually become aware of the hook in Jesus 'promise, 'I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.' This not only means he will not go away, but that we cannot get rid of him! He continues to roll back the stone from the caves we entomb him in. It Is only because Jesus insists on inserting himself into the thick of our plots that we insist on commenting on him."

There's a lot of truth to that. The key seems to me to lie in the encounter Mary Magdalene had with the Risen Christ near the Garden Tomb after she had reported what she had seen and heard and was rebuffed for bringing the disciples what they believed was only an idle tale.

Mary Magdalene has gotten a lot of attention lately as a result of the fiction novel, The DaVinci Code. But it is fiction. What is true, however, is that Mary Magdalene was a devoted and faithful disciple, devoted and faithful until the end - or at least what she thought was the end in the crucifixion. She had been witness to his horrible death - and hOW she was the first to learn of his resurrection and in particular the first person to see him, the Risen Christ. The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek retells the story this way:

Only Mary stays behind, all alone, weeping. She stoops to look in, and where before there had been nothing but swaddling cloths lying all around, there were now two angels asking her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"

And as she blurts out her answer she turns and bumps into someone else who is also asking her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you

What must have gone through her mind: Whom do I seek? Why am I weeping? Why is everyone asking me these questions? Who are those men in white in the tomb? Can't any of them see what has happened? Oh, I'm losing my mindl "You're the gardener-you tell me! Where have you put him? You should know, not me! You work here. You tell me. Whom do I seek? Why am I weeping? Why . indeed!!"

Then it happens. He says one word: "Mary."

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

She has heard this voice before. Only One person ever said her name in just this way. But it does not look like him. It cannot possibly be him. But suddenly her heart is racing again! It is about to leap out of her chest as she throws herself on the one she has supposed to be the gardener! Thank God I am not crazy after all. It IS Jesus.

"Rabboni!" she cries as she embraces him.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

And for a moment it seems as if it is all in her hands, in her embrace. It appears as if she can hold it all back, keep him there, hold onto him forever and ever, when he says, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the father, my father and your father, my God and your God. Go and tell the others."

And with that, she is given a new task. And our text simply says, "She went and told the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and she told them all the things he had said to


It took courage for Mary to go back to the tomb. It took even more courage for her to let go of Jesus. But in doing so, she gives birth to the Church. By her witness, by her testimony, the history of the world is changed, made new, transformed. Her words to his friends are the first Easter sermon ever preached! Because of her testimony, we are here today! Mary Magqalene continues to carry the message of the empty tomb through the ages to this very day. The message that gathers and calls us all to be a community of his beloved disciples, the blessed company of all faithful people.

Like those first disciples to whom she tells the Good News, we all race to the tomb and look in it to see for ourselves. Like Peter, Mary and the beloved disciple, we do not all see the same things, we do not hear the same voices. Except the one voice that calls us each by name. And we know that it is no idle tale.

He calls us today. He calls us by name. He calls us to be his beloved disciples. He calls us to follow him so that we may do something beautiful with our lives and bear much fruit.

Like Mary, he also calls us to let go of him. We can shut him up in tombs of our own making, or we can be like Mary and let go and go and tell others about our Risen Lord. In letting go, like Mary, we will find that we are more fully embraced by him, by his love more than we could ever imagine.

And like the people who were changed by her ,words, others lives will be changed by ours. We are never quite done with Jesus. And thank God, he is never quite done with us! And thats no idle tale.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

And so are we. And so are we! (3)

Alleluia! Amen

1, 3. Adapted and modified from The Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek, April 11, 2004 - Easter Day - Year C, Sermon for that Day, at Selected Sermons, Worship that Works,
2. John Shea, The Challenge of Jesus, The Thomas More Press: 1975, p. 11, as quoted in Ibid.