Summary: Easter -- is enough to open space for a new life changing story of our lives to begin.

The Story Behind the Egg

John 20:1-18

April 24, 2011


Pysanky -- Ukrainian Art of Egg Decorating

Pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter Egg.

Pysanky is a form of wax-resist dyeing using a kind of stylus called a kistka. Some kistkas are dipped into the hot wax, and others consist of a cone filled with hot wax that feeds the nib of the stylus. Kistkas are available at most major craft stores.

Red Pysanka are exchanged by the Ukrainian church as they celebrate Easter. This tradition of the Eastern Church of Jesus Christ is the earliest connection of dyed eggs to the Easter celebration.

So why and perhaps how did this all come to pass.

Well to explore that we need to turn to the story of one of those changed people that are chronicled and remembered in the John’s Gospel. John’s Gospel is filled with the stories of individuals who become seekers, who encounter Jesus and as a result are radically changed. So I invite you to turn with me to the most personal of all the resurrection accounts, stories, memories we have. John’s account of what occurred earlier on the first of day the week.

Turn with me to John 20.

The Empty Tomb

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!"

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"

"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don’t know where they have put him." 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, "Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

16 Jesus said to her, "Mary."

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means "Teacher").

17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ’I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’"

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

T.S. On that first Easter morning, the women didn’t come looking for resurrection either. They came "while it was still dark," with leaden feet and broken hearts. The dawn spelled doom for them.

These women had stood "a little way off" as Jesus hung on the cross, a public spectacle. Even ridicule and shame could not shake their loyalty. And so, on the first day of the week, they did what they could. They brought oils and spices to anoint the bruised and hastily wrapped body of their beloved master. Whether or not he was the Messiah, they could claim their love for him in this small way -- while it was still dark. The disciples were nowhere to be seen. Even the hapless Peter, shamed after his blatant lies denying Jesus, stayed away. But the women came. Mary Magdalene came. Mute. Blind with grief. Her very source of life destroyed.

And it will be her story that becomes associated with the egg.

Maybe some of us come to Easter morning that way, struck down by circumstances beyond our control-- by health problems, betrayal in relationships, job loss or simply by the futility that comes from looking ahead at more of the same. Not all of us come with hearts full of joy this morning. Some of us long for the dark to hide in, like Mary.

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