Does this reading seem a bit out of place? Next Wednesday we will gather in the sanctuary to share a beautiful Christmas Eve with one another. But our reading is not about Christmas Eve at all. In fact the reading is about the early morning experience of the very first Easter Sunday. Let’s think together for a few minutes about the individuals who were a part of that scene. Of course there were the women. If we look at all four Gospel accounts we discover Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, Salome the mother of the Sons of Zebedee along with others who remain unknown. Then we have Peter and John running to the tomb in the ultimate foot race. There were angels, Roman guards, and finally we discover Jesus himself speaking to Mary. The result of that conversation is a declaration of faith from the lips of Mary Magdalene when she said, “We have seen the Lord!” Isn’t that the same declaration that we would like to make as we continue our Advent journey and ultimately gather at the manger to worship the Lord? Would you like to come to Christmas Eve worship with the words of Mary on your lips: We have seen the Lord! Our faithfulness in the Word, our desire to abide in Christ, our commitment to waiting and watching will all be rewarded with a great blessing of discovery. Just as every person at the tomb on that early morning discovered that Jesus was alive and well, once again we will be able to say, “We have seen the Lord! Thanks be to God!”
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So 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 him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look 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 saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.