Two centuries ago the Catholic priest Erasmus said that, “The creation of the world was a work of power.”
In our power driven world how easy it would be to confine our ideas about God to just his powerful acts. After all, we are attracted to power, we create power, and we envy power. The most powerful men and women of the world are often the subject of the media. In fact even Jesus was voted once be one of the most powerful men in the world’s history.
We have given homage to the power of God often. We sing songs such as “Our God is an Awesome God,” alluding to the power that he has in creating us and the world around us.
We pray for God’s powerful intervention to hear our prayers of intercession. “Almighty and all powerful God hear our prayers.” We teach that God has three attributes. He is omniscient, all knowing; he is omnipresent, every where; he is omnipotent, all powerful. Yes the power of God is great and greatly to be praised.
Yet two centuries ago, Erasmus also said that, “The redemption of the world is an act of mercy.”
That is without a doubt the most under appreciated, misunderstood, and least accepted attribute of God. For some strange reason we have difficulty accepting the mercy of God. We tend to link mercy with weakness, indecisiveness, a lack of power.
That is strange to me because from a biblical point of view the emet and hesed “the love and mercy of God” is by far the most talked about attribute of God. “We say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” We understand that passage easily in the light of the Christmas story. In reality that passage speaks more about and is better understood in the light of the Easter candle. This candle that stands newly lit amongst us today. The Christ who died was buried and is risen is the Christ whose light illuminates our journey.
It is by his mercy that we are able to walk through this life and enter into the next one.
The principle character in today’s gospel is Mary of Magdala. The Magdala, who probably throughout her life heard over and over of how the powerful God was going to punish her for her faults. The Magdala who in her own time and down through the centuries was labeled as mad woman, prostitute, and sinner. The Magdala who finally in the presence of Jesus heard and experienced the mercy of God who by word and deed accepted her and embraced her.
The Easter story is hers to tell. What she says is simply, don’t surrender to power, don’t give in to doubt, and do not be afraid of anxiety. In the resurrection of Jesus she was reminded and she reminds us that Jesus died for justice, that Jesus rose for compassion, that Jesus walks for reconciliation.
No matter how hard we try, no matter how hard any one else tries to squelch, squash or subjugate you, the empty tomb is the powerful sign of God’s mercy and love.
“Lord I am not worthy but only say the word and I will be healed.” This morning there is before you either misery or mercy. Choose mercy, for our God is a merciful one. That alone should give us reason to rejoice.