Pride and Humility
April 12; Easter Sunday (John 20:1-18; Philippians 2:1-11)
Christ is risen
!Easter morning we are asked to draw close to what is most foundational
whatis most elusive to our faith. The resurrection is central to our confession and unique inour understanding of Christianity and yet it is not as concrete and tangible as the law inJudaism or the Quran in Islam or even in the Bible in our own tradition. There issomething about the resurrection that is impossible for us to grasp and hold on to thoughit has always been the Christian’s tendency to try and do so. Jesus’ most intimatefollowers kept within their grasp certain ideas of who Jesus was and what his plansincluded. Throughout his life Jesus attempted to loosen people’s grip on life. To the richhe said loosen your grip on your money. To families he said loosen your grip on familytraditions and expectations. To the religious he said loosen your grip on who you think God is. And to his disciples he said, “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Freely you have received, freely give.”What is most valuable to you cannot be stored in bank accounts or worn or livedin or achieved through strength, cunning and intelligence. What you have as a follower of Jesus is the ability to bless and to heal and the gift in being able to receive blessing andhealing. Jesus demonstrated and taught about what life looks like when in fact you are nolonger trying to grasp it. “Whoever would lose their life for my sake will gain it,” Jesus proclaimed. If you will loosen your grip on life I will place in your open hands a greater and abundant life. This message may perhaps bring us close to the seventh and finaldeadly sin in our Lent series, pride.Pride is being so confident in our strength, beauty, talent, family, wealth, status,country, community or intelligence that we forget that these things are limited, partial andunable to sustain and nourish us. We forget that at any moment these things can becompletely stripped from us. What then can we hold on to? We are called to hold on toJesus, right? On Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Thereare things we trust, things we can never let go of. There are things we must defend and preserve. These statements sound good but this unfortunately is not the image we aregiven in our Gospel reading this morning.Our resurrection story begins in darkness, much like many of our readersexperienced last night experienced, where light and morning are only still a promise.Mary Magdalene comes, she is first on the scene. Mary if you will remember is the onewho was gripped by seven demons. Perhaps she represents our common humanityreflecting all seven of the deadly sins pride, lust, gluttony, anger, sloth, greed and envy.Her body was gripped by death and Jesus released her from it. Her body and spirit became loose, relaxed and at peace. She immediately left her old life behind andfollowed Jesus wherever he went. And then we can only imagine the horror sheexperienced as Jesus was arrested, whipped and crucified. I wonder if she did not beginagain to feel the demons swirl around her. That she was not beginning to feel rage stir within her. Perhaps she wanted to ease the pain with the temptations of lust or gluttonyor simply to withdraw in the dwell in apathy and sloth. Her demons or sins were again pressing in on her and so she returned to the grave where the one who healed her andreleased her from their grip lay.