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Rev. Julie Boone, senior minister at First United Methodist Church of Marietta.

“It’s Party Time”

Gospel of Matthew 28:1-10

Let me be upfront with you and admit that I am disappointed I am not in church this Easter Sunday. No greeting people, no preaching, not proclaiming the Good News, in person. Easter is my favorite day of the Christian calendar; in fact, it is my favorite day period. It beats birthdays, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas. I know the Christian calendar begins at Advent, but Easter is when the party begins. It’s when we belt out in song singing Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! It’s when we get out all the bells and whistles, the party streamers, and glorious music! Easter is party time! It is filled with hope and promise and great joy!

Maybe it is a special day because we celebrate it together as a church. I know that Christmas is a party, too. Still, we leave Christmas Eve and head home, waiting for the birth of Christ on Christmas morning. But on Easter, we come to church, and we can feel the excitement in the air, we can feel the joy, we can barely contain ourselves as we begin to sing and celebrate; we don’t have to wait any longer; at dawn, the stone is rolled away, the stone that couldn’t hold death. On Easter morning when we walk through the doors of the church, we come in knowing He is Risen, He is Risen indeed! And we want to shout it, well at least that is how I see it. Today, I wanted to party with my church. So thank you for letting me vent for a moment.

I would hazard a guess and say that a party was not on the minds of the women when they first discovered the empty tomb. At least not at first. As the two Marys make their way to the tomb where Jesus had been buried, their minds must have been running a hundred miles a minute. In Matthew’s Gospel, it appears that the women have nothing in their hands, maybe the shock of it all has left them forgetting what they had come to the tomb to do or maybe Matthew doesn’t want that to be our focus when we hear his side of the resurrection story. What we hear is a loud noise, an earthquake, to get our attention because God has sent an angelic messenger to share the Good News to the women. Only they don’t know yet that it’s good news. They don’t know yet that there is going to be a party.

Instead, the only emotion at the tomb is fear. The Roman guards are shaking in their boots. So much for Roman strength and world power status. The first words out of the mouth of the angel are, “Do not be afraid.” They are not words directed to the soldiers but are for the faithful ears of the women. “Do not be afraid,” oh how wonderful are these words.

We need to hear these words today. They are words of comfort but also reminders that God has been with people of faith throughout history, guiding, healing, loving God’s people through difficult situations. So often we focus on the what-ifs of fear...what-if…

♦ What if I get the coronavirus

♦ What if my loved one gets the virus

♦ What if I lose my job

♦ What if I can’t pay my bills

♦ What if I don’t have enough food

♦ What if there are not enough tests, masks, ventilators

These are real fears, not to be dismissed and discarded. But maybe, alongside our concerns, we remember with joy the words of scripture…“Do Not Be afraid.”

When the women heard the words of the angel at the tomb and the command to go and tell the disciples, it is any wonder that they left quickly and began to run with fear and great joy.

Fear because of what had just happened and joy because of what God had just done! Not surprising, as they are running to tell the disciples, Jesus greets them, and their only response is to worship him. The celebration has already begun. How could it be any other way? Fear and joy, joy, and fear. Look what God has done!

No matter how you look at it, at least how I look at it, it’s time to celebrate; it’s party time!

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