Receive Christ—Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

Christ is risen!

Crucifixion is one of the most vile and repugnant methods of killing humanity has ever developed.  It is not just execution, it is a statement of power, a statement of domination, a statement projecting a threat against any other potential insurgent—“when we catch you, we will make you suffer.”

Christ died, and none of the disciples remembered his words, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And after he is killed, he will rise the third day.” (Mark 9:31)  In the pain and brutality of the crucifixion they all knew he was dead and thought that nothing else could come.  And yet two men came, Joseph and Nicodemus; these were rich men, the former “a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God,” and the latter, “a man of the Pharisees … a ruler of the Jews.” (John 3:1)  They did not come seeking teachings nor did they come seeking signs and miracles—they believed in Christ and wanted to do for him what was right.  A rock had been hewn out and they wrapped the Lord in linen and placed him in the tomb.  They risked religious ridicule, their wealth, their social standing, their places in the Synagogue and in the Temple itself for the chance to serve him one last time.

You and I, dear brothers and sisters, are to do the same.  We have heard the teaching, we have seen miracles, now what are we to do?  Will we put requirements and prerequisites on our Faith or will we receive the Lord unconditionally into our hearts.  Will we risk all for the sake of being with him?  Will we hew out our own hearts—wash, clean and purify them through prayer and confession—and make room for the Lord to be placed within?

The Myrrh-bearers acted likewise.  They came expecting to find a dead body, yet they came.  They came without hope, yet they came.  They came not knowing how they would even get into the tomb of the Lord, yet they came.  And in their love for the Lord, desiring nothing save the chance to serve him one last time, they became the first witnesses of the Resurrection.  “Do not be amazed;” calls out the Angel to them and to us, “you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.”

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, receive the Lord.  Receive him not with preconditions—seeking signs and miracles—but as he is: the Lord Almighty.  Receive him joyously, receive him with love.  And in the same manner, in as much as we receive him, he will receive us.

Christ is risen!

To our risen and glorified Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ be all glory, honour and worship, together with his Unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
— 1 John 1:1–7

At that time, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
— Mark 15:43–47, 16:1–8