This sermon was preached on the 31st of March 2024, Easter Sunday, in the Anglican Parish of Kalamunda-Lesmurdie

Text: John 20.1-18

Let’s taken a moment to reflect. Reflect upon your experience of Holy Week, and of the great Paschal Triduum, the height of the Christian year.

We have journeyed from the gates of Jerusalem, to Calvary, to the garden and the empty tomb. We have journeyed from false triumph, to tragedy, and now we find ourselves gathered in wonder and joy.

This is not merely a remembrance. It is the story of Christianity. It is the truth of Christianity. It is the story of humanity, and it is the story of God.

And we have brought ourselves to that story.

Many of you will know that worship over the Triduum begins on Maundy Thursday, and concludes on Easter Sunday. There is no dismissal on Thursday, nor on Good Friday. Our lives over the course of the past three days have been enfolded in worship: they have been an offering to God.

And that includes the messiness and complexity of what goes on when we aren’t here, when we aren’t in a place of worship. We have brought that to God. If we look, as we always ought, to the Bible, we find the mess of life. It’s right there, at the beginning, in the second creation account, the story of God, Adam, and Eve.

The LORD God said, “See, the humans have become like one of us, knowing good and evil, and now they might reach out their hands and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent them forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which they were taken.

God drove out the humans, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3.22-24)

That’s the part of that story that I remember most. A sundering: the interruption of the relationship between humanity and its Creator.

The second creation account speaks of the origin of sin: of human beings, made as we are in God’s image, defying God, and misusing the wills, the creative abilities, that God gave to us.

And it’s an earthy story. The first human being is shaped by God from the dust; they take their first breath when God breathes the Spirit into their nostrils.

A time of silence is marked.

The violence that we do to one another. The violence that we seek to do to God. Sin and death.

All of these have been defeated by our Lord and Saviour. We have been reconciled to God.

So let us cry out in joy – let us cry Alleluia three times! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The distance between ourselves and God, the sundering of ourselves from God: all of this has been healed. The futility of violence, and sin, the futility of turning away from God, all of this has been demonstrated to us in the most profound way. God has replied to violence and death not with more of the same, but rather with love, with new life.

I’ve spent a lot of time, over the past days, thinking about Saint Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles. In John’s Gospel, it is Mary who first discovers the empty tomb, the stone rolled back. She runs in distress and tells the other disciples: she believes that the Body of the Lord has been taken.

Those disciples come to investigate, but soon leave. It is Mary who remains. She remains, outside the tomb, weeping. And then she beholds two angels inside the tomb, shining with light uncreated.

These angels express care for her: they ask her why she weeps, and she tells them. And then she is surprised by a stranger. And yet she does not fear. She’s alone in a garden, and yet she does not fear.

The stranger joins with the angels, asking her why she weeps, and then asks: “Whom are you looking for?”

And Mary thinks he is the gardener. She thinks that he is the one who has taken the Body of the Lord away.

And then Jesus calls her by name: “Mary.”


God incarnate calls Mary by her name, softly, gently, with love. And suddenly, suddenly it’s oh so clear to Mary that this man standing in front of her, this gardener, is her Lord, her Saviour, her friend. It is Jesus of Nazareth. It is Jesus the Christ.

And he has risen.

So let us cry out in joy: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I have talked about the second creation story, about God, Adam, and Eve. I have talked about a sundering of relationship, a breach, a breach caused by sin. God created the first human, and placed them in the Garden of Eden, to till it, and to keep it.

To till and to keep. This is the calling of humanity. To be stewards, to care for one another, and for creation. To care even for God, to love God, with all that we are. And so Mary was not wrong when she mistook Jesus of Nazareth for the gardener.

Jesus was the second Adam. God took upon flesh, came into the world, so as to be with us, so as to show us a new way to live: the right way to live. Jesus tilled, Jesus kept. Jesus fed, Jesus healed, and most of all Jesus gave of himself, to each and to all.

And Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, and today the Apostle to us: Mary shows us that we can answer God’s call. We can accept the love of God.

Dare to let the trauma of the past, the cycles of violence answered by violence, dare to let all of that go.

Dare to accept the loving embrace of the God who created us, the God who loves us, just as we are.

Dare to till, dare to keep, guided by God, evermore.

After all, we each confess:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it.

So let us cry out a third time in joy: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!