“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord;” and she told them that he had said these things to her.” – John 20:1-18
“Woman, why are you weeping?”
The First word spoken by the resurrected Christ – “Woman.”
The first witnesses of the resurrected Christ were women – women who in that day were not allowed to testify in legal proceedings.
Christ appeared to women first in all four versions of the resurrection story.
Women were called by Christ to spread the good news, first.
Women were called to bear witness, to tell the story.
Christ called women first, to lead the way.
Christ called women to tell his story.
Even in his resurrection, Christ continued to challenge and change the culture.
Until they saw the resurrected Jesus, the disciples viewed the world the way others did. They feared the government and were hiding behind closed doors. They feared the Jewish authorities and the Romans who stood behind them. They feared the soldiers, the courts, the temples. And they were afraid of their own inadequacy and failure. Jesus had been taken by the authorities, and his disciples ran in fear. They failed Jesus, just as we sometimes feel we fail.
When the disciples saw Jesus, they came out of hiding.
Easter is the most important day in the Christian calendar. Some may say Christmas. But Christmas is when Christ was born – Easter is when Christ is reborn. In ancient times, baptisms took place on Easter Sunday – the holiest of Holy days.
We are born in God’s image. But we are reborn in Christ. Through Christ’s resurrection, we, too, will be resurrected.
This is the message of Easter . . . a message women were called by God to deliver.
But through time, women have been moved from the front of the Easter story to the back of the church, so much so, that to millions of Christians, women are not equal to men. Women can’t hold the same positions, can’t do the same things as men. Men made that decision, certainly not Christ.
If women ruled politics, theology and the world, the entire Christian faith would be based on the first word spoken by the resurrected Christ.
But men rule the world and so more than half of women murdered with guns in the U.S. in 2011 — at least 53 percent — were killed by intimate partners or family members.
Men rule the world, so women don’t hold the same positions of authority in a vast portion of Christendom.
Men rule the world, so it’s perfectly acceptable for the leading presidential candidate of a major party to be a sexist, misogynist bully who regularly denigrates women. And he continues to receive the majority of votes in elections.
Men rule the world, so the health and reproductive rights of women are controlled by men and the government.
March is women’s history month in the United States, and women continue to struggle for equality in the world, in the church, in the pulpit and in sermons – every month of the year.
But for one day, this Easter, we see women where God wants them to be – in the forefront of Christ’s story.