The readings on which this sermon is based can be found at:

s104g15   Easter Day  5/4/2015

‘go, tell his disciples and Peter’   Mark 16:7

The first apostles were women!   It was women who were divinely appointed to tell the men folk what to do and where to go to: to Galilee!   It is surely significant that it was women who were told to tell the men where they would find the risen Lord; the angels could have gone directly to the men.   And they would find the risen Jesus — not in the obvious places like the holy of holies, the Temple precinct or Jerusalem - but amongst the great unwashed, the heretics and the unbelievers, the riffraff, all those whom good devout people would believe God would command them to avoid.

So in this one command, the women are told to disregard centuries of sacredly ordained subordination and to be, in themselves, the instigators of this revolution.   They were to go, and the disciples were to go.   The good news was not that others had to come, but that the church was to go, physically yes, but also theologically and existentially, into the world.   The centuries of sacredly ordained elitism of religion was being overturned, and they were to be, in themselves, the instigators of this revolution.

‘Go .. tell Peter’ the chief of the disciples, the ‘rock’ on which the Lord would build his church (1), what to do and where to go.   Neither Peter nor the other male disciples had witnessed the resurrection.   For all they knew, they might be being sent on a wild goose chase.   The leadership had no inkling of what had happened; they were being called to trust and believe .. women!

‘To Galilee’ not to Mount Tabor or Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, or Tiberias.   The risen Jesus will not be found in a particular place; but in every place, everywhere where people of good will treat others likewise.   ‘To Galilee’ means elsewhere, everywhere.   To the places where people will welcome them after centuries of sanctified distain.    It is like saying go to Kings Cross, the Kremlin,  and Las Vegas all in one.   The church was being told to overturn centuries of sacredly ordained distain for others and that they, in themselves, were to be the instigators of this revolution!

The Easter message is the same to us; it is to go.   The Easter message is not that others will find in this sacred place a presence to preserve, but that we will find God out there, in others of goodwill who treat others likewise.

I ended my sermon for Good Friday (2) with the words: ‘Now the message of the book of Jonah is surely a message to the ancient people of God not the people of Nineveh; so also the message of the Cross (and resurrection) is just as surely a message to Christians - to be affirming and inclusive of others - not a message to those outside.   Salvation is from the Jews (3) but is meant to flow from them, in gratuitous love.   If gratuitous love doesn’t flow from Christianity any more freely why should the Lord consider us any better?   If our ‘evangelism’ is about getting those outside to read the bible, or even better to come to our Good Friday service to witness our retelling of the passion narrative in all its gory detail so that they will be ‘cut to the heart’ (4) and become like us, we haven’t even begun to get the message of the Cross (and resurrection).

And this is precisely what did happen.   The women did go and tell Peter and Peter and the disciples did go to Galilee and Christianity overturned the centuries of the traditions of the subordination of women, the divinely ordained status of an elite, and the sanctified distain for others.   As the Tui billboards say again and again: ‘Yeah right!’ (5)

No, the women, Mark tells us: ‘fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid’.

The Easter message is not that God has done something wonderful, but that we are called to something wonderful, to overturn centuries of religious tradition that keeps humanity on our knees, sinful and infantile, and limits the love of God to those who remain so.   If we don’t get this message, then the blood, sweat and tears of the passion has all been a waste of time.

1.  Matthew 16:18
3.  John 4:22
4.  Acts 2:37