Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Eater 4A Readings & Commentaries

Commonly called “Good Shepherd Sunday.”

The Collect of the Day
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:  Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1st Reading:  Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
Today’s reading begins with a loose “they.” The verse before says that the result of Peter’s sermon after the Pentecost event had the effect of three thousand people joining the believers.  It is this “they” whose life together is described below. It is an ideal community of generosity and faith, where the good of all is highly valued.  Note the allusion also to the Eucharist, which had clearly become an important part of the community’s life. Questions about this passage concerning whether or not this way of life together made the first believers “communists” or “socialists” ask modern-day questions of an ancient text. The point is the profoundly different way of life this represented in the midst of Empire:  a way of life where all took care of one another in a spirit of “glad and generous hearts.”

2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Psalm 23
The well-known and beloved Psalm 23 is a psalm of profound orientation in the goodness and companionship of God.  God, like a good shepherd, intends the well-being of his people, the sheep, doing for them what they cannot do for themselves.

1  The Lord is my shepherd; *
          I shall not be in want.
2  He makes me lie down in green pastures *
          and leads me beside still waters.
3  He revives my soul *
          and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
4  Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
     I shall fear no evil; *
          for you are with me;
          your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5  You spread a table before me in the presence of those
                                  who trouble me; *
          you have anointed my head with oil,
          and my cup is running over.
6  Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days
                                  of my life, *
          and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

2nd Reading:  1 Peter 2:19-25
Our second reading this morning is a troubling passage given its context.  Verse 18 addresses the verses that follow it to household slaves.  The good of the passage can only be in the fact that slaves are to be examples for the entire household of God.  Yet one cannot excuse the capitulation to unjust relationship.  Slavery at the time of the early church was considered a part of the natural order, as it was, shamefully, for centuries of the church’s life.  The last line of the reading pairs it with this morning’s Gospel.  The word “guardian” could also be translated “bishop” (it is the Greek word from which comes our word “episcopal”).

2:19 It is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Gospel Reading:  John 10:1-10
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter we always read from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel with its imagery of Jesus as, first, gate for the sheep and protector of the sheepfold, and then (immediately following this passage) the Good Shepherd. The image of Shepherd was long used as a title for the kings of Israel and Judah, and, also, for God, as in our psalm (see also, Ezekiel 34:1-10 and Isaiah 40:10-11).

10:1 Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2020, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, www.epiphanyesources.com. All rights reserved.  Permission is given to copy for group study. Bulletin inserts are available. See our website for more information.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Easter 3A Readings & Commentaries

Our Gospel reading is the well-known and much-loved story of Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

The Collect of the Day
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of the bread:  Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1st Reading:  Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41
Peter’s Sermon after Pentecost continues.  One must point out the potential anti-semitism in this passage: “this Jesus whom you crucified.”  This has been taken to mean that the Jews were solely responsible for Jesus’ death. Through history this charge has led to anti-semitic tendencies among Christians, from which the Church can only repent.  Peter’s point, however, is different.  In his mind it is God who acted in Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The people were just instruments of this action.

2:14a  But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, 36 “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40 And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
Our psalm this morning is a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s action in the life of the writer. That action requires a response offering praise, thanksgiving and service. The phrase “sacrifice of thanksgiving” will become a very important image in Anglican theology and worship. It is used no less than 14 times in The Book of Common Prayer.

1  I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of
                                  my supplication, *
          because he has inclined his ear to me whenever
                                  I called upon him.
2  The cords of death entangled me;
    the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
          I came to grief and sorrow.
3  Then I called upon the Name of the Lord: *
          “O Lord, I pray you, save my life.”
10  How shall I repay the Lord *
          for all the good things he has done for me?
11  I will lift up the cup of salvation *
          and call upon the Name of the Lord.
12  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
          in the presence of all his people.
13  Precious in the sight of the Lord *
          is the death of his servants.
14  O Lord, I am your servant; *
          I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
          you have freed me from my bonds.
15  I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
          and call upon the Name of the Lord.
16         I will fulfill my vows to the Lord *
          in the presence of all his people,
17  In the courts of the Lord’s house,
          in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.  Hallelujah!

2nd Reading:  1 Peter 1:17-23
Our Eastertide readings from the first letter of Peter continue. Peter uses the metaphor of “ransom” to describe the atonement (how God made salvation possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus). He also uses the metaphor of “exile” to describe the state of Christians in this world. He closes this passage with the image of “new birth” and the commandment to love, both echoes of Jesus from John’s Gospel.

1:17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. 21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. 22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. 23 You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

Gospel Reading:  Luke 24:13-35
Our Gospel reading is the well-known and much-loved story of Jesus’ appearance to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is clearly a very important story for Luke and appears only in his Gospel. It reflects the pattern of worship that emerged in the early Church: Word and Sacrament. Jesus is revealed as the interpreter of Scripture for Christians (this is a theme throughout Luke’s Gospel), and as the one who is revealed in the breaking of the bread. There is also a detail which allows the reader in any age to insert him or herself into the story:  the unnamed disciple (the companion of Cleopas).

24:13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2020, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, www.epiphanyesources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for group study.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter 2A Readings & Commentaries

The Collect of the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation:  Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

1st Reading:  Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 22-32
By tradition we read from the Acts of the Apostles during Eastertide. Our reading this morning is from Peter’s first sermon, following the descent of the Holy Spirit. The sermon traces the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, including Peter’s interpretation of a portion of Psalm 16 (this morning’s psalm).  The use of the Hebrew Scriptures to foretell the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was important to the early followers of Jesus, underscoring the fact that these followers were observant Jews, for whom those Scriptures were vitally important.

2:14a  But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, 22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say:  Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know—23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

Psalm 16
Our psalm this morning is a psalm of trust in God. In Hebrew the psalm begins with a single imperative word:  Protect! Then follows the reasons for which the psalmist believes God should protect. It is verses 8-11 which Peter quotes in the sermon we have just heard. The Book of Common Prayer appoints these same words to be said at the grave in the Burial Service.

1  Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; *
          I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord,
          my good above all other.”
2  All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, *
          upon those who are noble among the people.
3  But those who run after other gods *
          shall have their troubles multiplied.
4  Their libations of blood I will not offer, *
          nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.
5 O Lord, you are my portion and my cup; *
          it is you who uphold my lot.
6  My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; *
          indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
7  I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel; *
          my heart teaches me, night after night.
8  I have set the Lord always before me; *
          because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.
9  My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; *
          my body also shall rest in hope.
10  For you will not abandon me to the grave, *
          nor let your holy one see the Pit.
11  You will show me the path of life; *
          in your presence there is fullness of joy,
          and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

2nd Reading:  1 Peter 1:3-9
The First Letter of Peter was written to a group of Christians undergoing suffering, probably in one of the waves of persecution of the early Church by the Romans. We will read from this letter during Eastertide this year. It is also clear that Peter is writing to persons who had not been part of the original followers of Jesus, i.e., they had never seen Jesus. Peter exhorts his readers to embrace the “new birth” of their conversion and, therefore, the new life to which they are called despite their present sufferings.

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Gospel Reading:  John 20:19-31
Our Gospel this morning is read every year on the Second Sunday of Easter.  The reading is composed of two scenes.  The first is John’s account of the first appearance of the risen Jesus to the disciples. For John it is also the formation of the Church (including the gift of the Holy Spirit). Jesus’ forgiveness of the disciples is extraordinary given their betrayal and abandonment of him. Moreover, he also gives them the power of forgiveness! The second scene is the familiar story of Thomas, the disciple missing from the first appearance. Thomas needs physical proof, for which we can hardly blame him. The story is partially a set up for the important statement, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Note that by “the Jews” in the first verse is meant the religious authorities, not all Jews.

20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2020, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, www.epiphanyesources.com. All rights reserved. Permission given to copy for group study.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Easter Day A Readings & Commentaries

Alleluia! Christ is risen from the grave, trampling down death by death, and in the tombs restoring life. Alleluia!

The Collect of the Day
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:  Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1st Reading:  Acts of the Apostles 10:34-43
This short passage is part of a long story (Acts 10:1—11:18) about how the Gentiles came to be accepted as having the same relationship with Jesus as his fellow Jews. The apostle Peter and the gentile Cornelius have both had visions causing them to seek each other out. When Peter meets Cornelius in the latter’s house (a line observant Jews were not to cross), he experiences the Pentecostal Spirit at work among them just as he and his fellow disciples had experienced it. This leads to the following declaration. It is a testimony to the power of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.

10:34 Peter began to speak to Cornelius and the other Gentiles: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:  38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Or this

1st Reading:  Jeremiah 31:1-6
Jeremiah is known as “the gloomy prophet,” but in chapters 30 through 33, his tone changes, so that these chapters are known as “The Book of Comfort.” The opening verse is good news for a people who have felt abandoned by God while in exile in Babylon.  Jeremiah calls on the old memory of the Exodus wilderness to make a statement about God’s continued presence with his people. Verses 4 through 6 acknowledge Israel’s current plight by use of the threefold “Again…again…again.”  The time of exile, a dramatic break in well-being for Israel, will be overcome by the Lord who has never abandoned his people.

31:1 At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, 3 the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. 5 Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. 6 For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.”

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Psalm 118 is a song of thanksgiving rooted in Israel’s worship of a faithful God. It has long been associated with Holy Week and Easter because the first part of the psalm acknowledges distress, and the second half pivots to gratitude for deliverance. The image of the stone which the builder’s rejected is used by Matthew, Mark, and Luke (in Acts) to describe what God has done in Jesus Christ.

1  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
          his mercy endures for ever.
2  Let Israel now proclaim, *
          “His mercy endures for ever.”
14  The Lord is my strength and my song, *
          and he has become my salvation.
15  There is a sound of exultation and victory *
          in the tents of the righteous:
16  “The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! *
          the right hand of the Lord is exalted!
          the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!”
17  I shall not die, but live, *
          and declare the works of the Lord.
18  The Lord has punished me sorely, *
          but he did not hand me over to death.
19  Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
          I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20  “This is the gate of the Lord; *
          he who is righteous may enter.”
21  I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
          and have become my salvation.
22  The same stone which the builders rejected *
          has become the chief cornerstone.
23  This is the Lord’s doing, *
          and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24  On this day the Lord has acted; *
          we will rejoice and be glad in it.

2nd Reading:  Colossians 3:1-4
These four verses are a bridge used by Paul in this letter It summarizes the argument that has come before and leads into the ethical imperatives that follow.  “If” here is not a conditional word, it connects the text to the end of chapter 2, and, in that context, clearly assumes that “you have been raised.” The mystery of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection is a theme of Colossians, emphasized here by use of the word “hidden,” which is also used at 1:26 and 2:2-3. The Greek word used has the definite connation of “hidden in safety.”

3:1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Or this:  Acts of the Apostles reading from above

Gospel Reading:  John 20:1-18
John’s witness to the empty tomb and the experience of the risen Jesus centers on Mary Magdalene, who, on account of this story, is known as “the Apostle of the Resurrection.” Mary is the first to tell the other disciples, who themselves come to the tomb, but do not remain. Mary, in her grief, does not leave and so has the first encounter with the risen Jesus. Why she does not recognize him is a matter of much speculation, as well as Jesus’ admonition to her not to hold on to him. Whatever the meaning, Mary again becomes the first witness, “I have seen the Lord.”

20:1 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. 2 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.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 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. 13 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.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 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.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 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.’” 18 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.

Or this

Gospel Reading:  Matthew 28:1-10
In all the Gospel accounts of the discovery of the empty tomb, it is women, led by Mary Magdalene who are the first witnesses. Because of this Mary Magdalene is often called the “Apostle of the Resurrection.” Matthew often tells a story which includes some response of creation, and here we get a report of an earthquake (there had already been one reported at the moment Jesus’ died—see Matt. 27:51-54, but also 8:24 and 24:7). The Gospel writers disagree as to where the post-resurrection appearances take place:  Matthew says Galilee, Luke says Jerusalem, and John first one and then the other. The worship of Jesus (v. 9) is unique to Matthew—he clearly believes that it is the correct response to the risen Lord.

Deacon or Priest:  The Holy Gospel … according to Matthew.          People:  Glory to you, Lord Christ.

28:1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2020, Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY  14843, www.epiphanyesources.com. All rights reserved.