Below are a few of the accounts of the resurrected Christ. If with others, assign different people to read each passage. Upon completion of the passages, there is a reflection and some questions for you all to read and discuss as well. Hope it’s meaningful for you! - mike
Jesus Appears to Mary
Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, “They took the Master from the tomb. We don’t know where they’ve put him.”
Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.
But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”
“They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.
Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”
Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!”
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
Jesus Appears to His Disciples Again
Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”
The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.
Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”
They answered, “No.”
He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”
They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.
Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”
When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.
Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.
Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.
Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.
No church on Easter… there’s something kind of wonderful about that amidst the obvious oddity. But if you think about it, the last place the disciple’s probably felt like going to after the death of who they thought to be the son of God, was a church service. They were likely done and detoxing from the world of the spiritual. Frustrated and confused and in lament.
And yet, every year Easter Sunday see’s a 20% increase in church attendance in America. Whether by guilt or by celebration, people put on the pastels and ribbons to attend the big event.
But instead of a church service, the stories above tell us that the resurrected Christ appears in…
Around a table of friends.
On the shore of a lake bbq-ing.
Although not a Sunday morning service, each of these places — I’ve learned over the conversations I’ve had with some of you — are settings in which the Branches community will find themselves this morning.
Out for a morning hike.
Sitting around a table at a friends house.
Getting a cabin on the shores of Priest Lake for half-off because Easter is such an under-booked time of year.
It’s not that church on Easter is a bad thing. Of course not! There’s a time to celebrate this beautiful story and we at Branches would be doing so if not for logistics… But as we talked about during lent, disruption can lead to encountering something new and profound. And in the disruption of not gathering at 10am for a church service, we find ourselves in the places that the resurrected Christ first appeared.
Another lesson getting away from the standard Easter Sunday church service allows for is the tapping into an ancient truth… Resurrection was never meant to be seen as solely an individual event. As Colossians 2 tells us, we have been raised with Christ. Easter Sunday often tends to solely depict Jesus’s resurrection. And in doing this, we can miss out on what Colossians tells us.
As John Dominic Crossan shares in his book, Resurrecting Easter, many ikons of the Eastern orthodox church depict Adam and Eve being resurrected with Jesus. The story of resurrection is a story about the whole of humanity as much as it is about one man. Jesus is the son of God to teach us that we are all sons and daughters of God. And as such, we are resurrected with him. This day, Easter, is to celebrate the universal truth of resurrection.
To be resurrected is to overcome. It’s to come alive. It’s to see life bursting forth. It’s to realize the story isn’t over. Instead, it’s beginning again. It’s springtime. A service at 10am can be the place for that, of course. But it can’t just be that.
Heck, it’s not the place Jesus chose. He picked gardens and friends and bbq’s on the beach.
You are risen with Christ. And because of that, you are free and empowered to find the places you feel most resurrected.
If you’re wanting and willing, I’ve included some questions for you all to discuss. Or, if you find yourself just with yourself, some questions to journal and ponder over. But before that, set a three minute timer. Be silent during those three minutes. When the timer goes off, turn to the person to either side of you and tell them, “You have been resurrected with Christ.” If alone, truly reach into yourself and leave that truth there.
Where do you find yourself resurrected? Most liberated? Most alive? Where has your story seen a fresh and empowered reset?
The resurrected Christ shows up in the places we’d most naturally find ourselves. How do you see the resurrected Christ in the setting you are in now? What is alive and liberated, free and full of life? Do the settings you most often find yourself yield resurrection? How can you help bring that reality there?
Think about a garden. What is growing there? Think of the scents, the bird songs, the early dawn light that would have also accompanied Mary’s encounter with Christ. What are some of the places in the world you’ve experienced that have made an encounter with the Divine that much more natural and full of ease?
What are the places that are the most fun? Where do you feel most happy? Draw them or tell your family about them!
Draw what you would want your garden to look like! What lives there?
What’s the difference to feeling free and feeling not free? Where do you feel most free?