Preached at Sunrise Service, Easter Morning, April 1, 2018
A few months before I was gonna graduate from college, I started to really think about the future. Graduating from college will do that to you. I started seriously thinking about what my future career would look like. My degree was in finance and banking. So, I was thinking like this: “One day, I’ll be a stockbroker, then maybe one day a bit later I’ll get into the investment banking side of things.” The common thread in all of this was of course money – and the potential for lots of it. And a really important question for me was this: “What car will I drive?” I thought, “One day, I’ll have a Mercedes.”
We’re all hoping for that, “One day” aren’t we? Each of you has hopes and dreams for the future. It may be something like: “One day, I’ll graduate.” “One day, I’ll own a home.” “One day, I’ll get married.” “One day, I’ll have children, or grandchildren.” And there are bigger-picture hopes as well. “One day, there will be a cure for cancer.” “One day, there will be a cure for diabetes.” “One day, there will be a pollution-free source of energy.” “One day, the war will be over” these sorts of things. I’m sure that each of you has your own, “One day…” that you hope will happen - someday.
But sometimes, that “one day” never ends up actually happening. Schooling may remain unfinished. That right person never comes into your life. Poor life choices that end careers or doesn’t permit them to even begin. Hopes and dreams that never happen can lead to playing the head games of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” Leading you nowhere – which brings regret, remorse, and guilt. And maybe that one day does come, the one day you dread the most: the bankruptcy, the accident, the shooting, the divorce, the empty house, the diagnosis, the deathbed, the funeral.
And that’s where we find Mary Magdalene early, in the dark, before sunrise, on a Sunday morning. She, and the other disciples who had followed Jesus for a few years now, had their hopes for the future. Now, the previous Sunday, they were probably thinking that “one day” was just about to happen. Jesus of Nazareth was entering the capital city of Jerusalem just like a king! One day, they could be in His court, and serving the king! But that one day never happened. How quickly all of those hopes fell apart. By Friday, Jesus was dying on a cross outside the city. “One day” turned into the day she dreaded most. Her master was now dead. And now, on this day, she could at least make sure His body was buried properly. That’s the least she could do. This was not a good day. And then bad day became even worse. His body was gone! But “one day” turned out to be a wonderful surprise:
“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.’”
The one day that didn’t come was suddenly happening right now. With one word – her name - one day, became, today. Today it happened. And happened as no one expected – but exceeded everyone’s expectations. On the cross, Jesus died as the once-for-all sacrifice for your sin and for mine. On the cross, He bore all of our griefs and carried all of our sorrows, all of our guilt, all of our remorse, all of our regret, all of our “one days” we aren’t looking forward to. And He died with them there. They are dead and gone, forever. And now, the one day, the new day, has come! That “one day” has already happened for you in Jesus Christ. And in your baptism, you have been attached – connected – to Jesus – dying with Him and rising with Him. So the “one day” has already happened to you.
Yet as we gather here early in the morning on the first day of the week before sunrise, we’re still waiting – waiting for the full fruition of “one day.” Our own hopes and dreams of may or may not happen “one day.” But this Jesus Christ, whom Mary saw and heard risen from the dead has promised you and me and everyone a “one day.” That one day – that day – when we will be where our Lord already is: risen from the dead. One day, Christ will return – in glory – in the glory of God as He truly is. One day, your Lord will call you by name. And you too will rise from the dead – just like Him. And on that one day, when “one day” becomes today, all the pain and sorrow and regret and remorse and guilt and shame will be lifted. One day all of that will be lifted off of you, like a huge weight off of your back, so that you can soar – and live in the joy of God’s kingdom – a kingdom prepared for you and me. That is our hope. That “one day”, will one day be “today.” And everything changes and is made right and new – forever – in Christ.
But here’s the thing: you get a foretaste of that one day, today. Just a bit of that “one day” - is today - this Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord in the year of our Lord 2018. Today is a foretaste of His victory over sin, and death. Today is a foretaste as you hear and experience the words, “I forgive you all of your sin, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Today is a foretaste as you remember His words, “I am with you always to the end of the age.” Today is a foretaste as you may taste and see that the Lord is good: “This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.”
So with Peter, John, Mary Magdalene, and all the other eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, rejoice! Today…rejoice that despite all the days you may endure in your life, “one day” has already come. His tomb outside of Jerusalem is still empty. Christ is still risen from the dead. And one day, one great day, He will come and make all things, including you, fully and entirely right and new again. Until that day, we join with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven saying, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.” Amen.