He is not here, He is Risen!

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by Rev. Canon David B. Tabo-oy

v1After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. v2Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. v3-4On the way they said to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (It was a very large stone.) Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back. v5So they entered the tomb, where they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe—and they were alarmed. v6″Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here—he has been raised! Look, here is the place where he was placed. v7Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: ‘He is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him, just as he told you.’” v8So they went out and ran from the tomb, distressed and terrified. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. – Mark 16:1-8

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” These words are from the book of Psalm (118:24) and have become a popular contemporary song of praise aptly define the celebration in the whole Christendom thisSunday. It’s Easter day, the day the Christ rose from the dead! Easter day or the day of Jesus’ resurrection is a day of faith, joy and celebration. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation and chief cornerstone of the Christian faith and the most extraordinary happening in human history. For those who believe all hopes and happiness come from what happened on that first Easter morning. By God’s power, the stone was rolled back, the grave was found to be empty. Jesus had risen triumphant from the dead. According to one theologian, ‘nothing could ever be the same again because the pattern of human life was no longer limited with by the cycle of birth to death to this world. Pain, despair and misery were pushed into second place as a whole new future, full of the hope and happiness of eternal life, was opened up for us beyond the grave.’ Heaven and earth rejoiced in celebrating Christ’s victory over death for mankind.
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The most solemn season of the church begins and ends with triumphs. The Holy Week (Semana Santa) commenced last Sunday with the celebration of Palm Sunday dubbed in holy scripture as Jesus’ triumphal entry to the city of Jerusalem for the last time in his earthly ministry. Easter Sunday is the end of Christ passion story but a new beginning of a new sphere with his victory over death: triumphal entry to eternal life, for all those who believe. Jesus is alive! After telling the disciples, several times over three years,

“Indeed, this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”

that He will die and rise again, Jesus’ work is finally done. But the disciples are in hiding. Only the women come to the tomb, carrying burial spices instead of hope.
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Let us walk inside the empty tomb with the first witnesses of Christ’s resurrection in our gospel lesson this Easter Sunday. Saint Mark’s account of that morning is remarkable and powerful image. It has the image of the three women going to the tomb to anoint Jesus. They had no expectation of Jesus’ Resurrection. They were like the rest of Jesus’ followers. It seems that they all were astounded by the reality of the Resurrection, even though Jesus had told them what would happen by showing them the texts in Scripture that foretold it. When they came to the empty tomb and saw the angel who told them what was happening, they were afraid. And the angel first said what angels always say first, “Don’t be afraid.” The angel was not successful in quieting their fears. The text says that they did not say anything to anyone because they were afraid.
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‘So they entered the tomb, where they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe—and they were alarmed.’(v.5) Once again we are drawn into the drama of the young man’s assurance: “But he said to them, ‘Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified’” (16:6a). The message we hear is the heart of the Easter proclamation then and now: “He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him” (16:6b).A lot of us are in the same place that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and the young women occupied. Afraid.The Scriptures say that the “fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”The reason we fear God is because “God is love.” Anyone who has ever loved anyone knows the vulnerability that love brings. When we love, we can be hurt. Anyone who has ever been loved knows how the experience of being loved constrains, guides and shatters the illusion of personal autonomy. What is even more fear provoking is that the submission or surrender to another’s love is done, not because we have to, but because we want to. God had made his love for us absolutely clear. The Resurrection is God’s ultimate gift of love to humankind. When we enter it, we give up our illusions of being in control of our lives; we give up our duty to death. We give up living for ourselves. The Resurrection restores us to Eden, a place where we were in relation with God and joyfully loved and cared for all of the creation. A place without sin and death.
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With the events that we have witnessed at the tomb, we have been drawn into the early dawn hours of a new day. With the women, we have come to the tomb and the discovery of the large stone rolled away. The message of the young man is addressed to us. We too have received the commission to go and tell. Finally, we understand the response of the women fleeing from the tomb “for terror and amazement seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (16:8).Easter is a time to nurture the faith that is in us. None of us is perfect. We are all sinners. Our faith is not perfect. Our faith-based behavior is not perfect.God did not raise Jesus from the dead because we are perfect or likely to become perfect in this life; God raised Jesus from the dead as an act of love for us.
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Easter is all about newness of life in Christ. There will always be fear and uncertainties as we walk this new life. Yet even if we are so afraid that we can’t even speak of Resurrection, remember, that nevertheless it is a gift of love from God for us. Remember that the very fear that immobilizes us can be the beginning of wisdom; loving and being loved is a lot of trouble. God went to a lot of trouble to love us. We go to a lot of trouble to love God. There is only one thing worse, the vulnerability that love brings. When we love.The messenger at the empty tomb issues an Easter command and promise: “Don’t be alarmed, …he is not here, he has been raised!” Jesus said this would happen.
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“Look, go, tell…” “Look,” Jesus was truly dead, as you can see from the place they laid him, but death cannot hold him.”Go” away from this place of death and of endings, and return to life and a new beginning.Then: “Tell” his disciples, even the one who betrayed him, that he is going ahead of you. You will see him!Christ is risen, and this is only the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Indeed, this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Let us pray.
O God, who for our redemption gave your only begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Easter Day Collect, BCP).


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