Early in the Morning!

Mark 16:1-6

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 

Now many of you know that I am an early riser.  I wake up every morning during the week at 4:45 a.m. so that I can go for a run, work out, to exercise.  Even when I am not working out I wake up early.  Even when I try to sleep in I just can’t do it.  When I tell Shannon I’m sleeping in she looks at me like I’m crazy because she knows that I can’t do it.  I can’t help myself.  I have to get up and get the day started.  I have to get up and get moving.  I have to get up and do something.  What’s that old saying?  The early bird gets the worm.  I don’t know about getting the worm, but I like to get up and get to it. And I believe in general that we all need to wake up and get to work.  Now I am not necessarily talking about waking up from physical sleep, but in life we need to wake up and get to work.  Too many people are sleep walking through life.  Just going through the motions.  Just letting life ass them by.  Instead of living life, life is living them.  Instead of making the most of life, life is making the most of them.  They have this whatever happens will happen attitude.  This laissez-fare attitdude.  This que sera sera attitude, which is Spanish for what will be will be. And they need to wake up, and the need to wake up early.  In other words, they need to wake up sooner than later.  Because there is work to do.  This is what the text was about today.

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 

So early in morning on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might anoint Jesus’s body.  As they walked to the tomb that asked one another who will roll away the stone from the tomb? But when they looked up they saw the stone, that was very large, was already rolled away from the the tomb.  As they entered the tomb they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right hand side, and they were alarmed! He said, don’t be alarmed you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  So as early as Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome got up early in the morning to get to work.  They got up early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus.  But Jesus got up even earlier, because he was gone before they arrived.  He got up early from that grave because he had work to do.  He still has work to do.  And we have work to do so we have to get up early too.  What work do we have to do?  I am so glad that you asked?

We have to spread the word.  We have to get up early so that we can spread the word.  We have to let the world know that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever… believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  But not only do we need to spread the word that he give his son.  We need to spread the word that his son bore our sins on the cross and died so that we could live.  He paid our debt for sin, and he did so in the most painful way possible.  He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.  He did the time for the crimes that he did not commit.  He is the sibling that took the whooping for something he did not do.  We have to spread the word that three days later he rose with all power in his hands and that’s what we celebrate today.  We have to spread the word.  Christ has risen.  He Got up.  Some people cannot wait to spread the latest news.  Well this is news that needs to be shared.  We must spread the word.

But not only do we need to spread the word.  We have to serve the world.  Just like Jesus did the night he was betrayed, at the last supper, when he disrobed, tied a towel around his waste, filled a basin with water, got down on his knees, and washed his disciples feet.  We must serve the world in the same way.  And I know there s someone out there thinking I ain’t washing nobody’s fee.  I don’t like feet.  Do you think Jesus enjoyed washing the disciples dirty, filthy feet?  I think Jesus understood that you may not enjoys how you serve, but you still have to serve.  For example you don’t always like doing some of the things that you do, but you enjoy the results.  You may not like getting up in the morning to help out at a shelter.  But you like the results.  You may not like working long hours at the food pantry.  But you like the results.  Do you think that Jesus enjoyed being bothered all the time to heal this, to touch that, to come here, to go there, to say  this as to say that?  I am sure there were times that he just did not feel like doing it, but he served anyway because he liked the results.  If Jesus can serve we should have no problem serving and I told you on Thursday that we serve earnestly, we serve with excellence, and we serve with excitement.  We must serve the world.

We spread the word.  We serve the world.  And last but not least, we have to shout the worship.  If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times.  There is a difference between praise and worship.  Anyone can praise God.  You do not even have to be saved to praise God.  Praise is just telling God thank you.  But only children of God can worship him.  Because those that worship Him but do so in spirit and in truth.  And the only way that you can worship him in spirit and in truth is if his spirit resides in you.  We must shut the worship.

We worship the king of kings and the Lord of lords.

We worship the Alpha and the Omega.

The beginning and the end.

The author and finisher of our faith.

The great I am.

The bright and morning star.

The lion of the tribe of Judah.

The lamb that was slain.

The risen savior.

The savior of the world.

We have to shout the worship!

Philip’s Egg

Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child, happy it seemed, but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday School faithfully every week. He was in the third grade class with nine other eight-year olds.

You know eight-year olds. And Philip, with his differences, was not readily accepted. But his teacher was sensitive to Philip and he helped this group of eight-year olds to love each other as best they could, under the circumstances. They learned, they laughed, they played together. And they really cared about one another, even though eight-year olds don’t say they care about one another out loud.

But don’t forget. There was an exception to all this. Philip was not really a part of the group. Philip did not choose, nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was the way things were.

His teacher had a marvelous idea for his class the Sunday after Easter. You know those things that pantyhose come in . . . the containers that look like great big eggs? The teacher collected ten of them. The children loved it when he brought them into the room and gave one to each child. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assignment was for each child to go outside, find the symbol for new life, put it into the egg, and bring it back to the classroom. They would then open and share their new life symbols and surprises, one by one.

It was glorious. It was confusing. It was wild. They ran all around the church grounds, gathering their symbols, and returned to the classroom.

They put all the eggs on a table, and then the teacher began to open them. All the children gathered around the table. He opened one and there was a flower, and they ooh-ed and aah-ed. He opened another and there was a little butterfly. “Beautiful!” the girls all said, since it is hard for eight-year old boys to say ‘beautiful.’ He opened another and there was a rock. And as third-graders will, some laughed, and some said, “That’s crazy! How’s a rock supposed to be like new life?” But the smart little boy who’d put it in there spoke up: “That’s mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers and buds and leaves and butterflies and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that’s new life.” They all laughed.

The teacher said something about the wisdom of eight-year olds and opened the next one. There was nothing inside. The children, as eight-year olds will, said, “That’s not fair. That’s stupid! Somebody didn’t do it right.”

Then the teacher felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down. “It’s mine, Philip said. It’s mine.”

And the children said, “You don’t ever do things right, Philip. There’s nothing there!”

“I did so do it right!” Philip said. “I did do it right. The tomb is empty!”

There was silence, a very full silence. And for you people who don’t believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

Philip died last summer. His family had known since the time he was born that he wouldn’t live out a full life span. Many other things were wrong with his little body. And so, late last July, with an infection that most normal children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died.

At his memorial service, nine eight-year old children marched up to the altar, not with flowers to cover over the stark reality of death . . . but nine eight-year olds, along with their Sunday School teacher, marched right up to that altar, and laid on it an empty egg . . . an empty, old, discarded pantyhose egg.

Why?  Because the tomb is empty!

I just want to know if there is anybody in the room excited about the fact the the tomb is empty.  And because the tomb is empty we have new life.

We’re saved because the tomb is empty.

We’re alive because the tomb is empty.

We’re favored because the tomb is empty.

We’re children of God because the tomb is empty.

We’re blessed because the tomb is empty.

We’re healed because the tomb is empty.

We’re delivered because the tomb is empty.

We’re set free because the tomb is empty.

We’re victorious because the tomb tomb is empty.

We have won because the tomb is empty.

We will wear a crown because the tomb is empty.

We will put on a robe and tell the story because the tomb is empty.

We will see him face to face because the tomb is empty.

We will hear him say well done good and faithful servant because the tomb is empty.

And most importantly because the tomb is empty HE LIVES!

Because he lives I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives all fear is gone.

Because I know he holds the future. 

And life is worth the living just because he lives.

Oh I’m so glad he lives, he lives.

Christ Jesus lives today.

He walks with me and talks with me.

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, he lives, salvation to impart.

You ask me how I know he lives.

He lives within my heart.

Early in the morning He got up.

Early in the morning He got to work.

Early in the morning we must get to work too.

We must spread the word.

We must serve the world.

We must shout the worship.


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