Call Me by My Name

Sermon from Easter Day 2019
John 20: 1-18
St. Luke’s, Lindale, Texas

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Many years ago, I was a big Diet Coke drinker in the mornings, drinking at least one Diet Coke to wake me up with a caffeine fix.
Yet once I began to research what is actually in a Diet Coke, and striving to be a bit more healthy,
A few years ago, I gave up Diet Cokes.

However, I have simply transferred my caffeine fix from Diet Coke – to Starbucks.
I pretty much go to Starbucks each and every morning.
And in Tyler, my Starbucks location is just off of Broadway.

I like that particular Starbucks location – because it doesn’t have a drive through.
I like it that “my Starbucks” doesn’t have a drive through, because then I must go inside, and see people, and rub shoulders with those in the community.

At that particular Starbucks, the servers and baristas know me.
And the baristas at Starbucks know my usual order:
A grande latte with one sweet and low in it.

I must admit that I love my Starbucks latte.
And I love to see the people in my non-drive through Starbucks.
But what I love the very most about my Starbucks, is that when I open that door, I hear the barista yell out:
“Good morning, Jeff!”

At my Starbucks in Tyler, I love my grande latte.
But what I love the most – is that they know my name.

For there is power and dignity and recognition – when someone calls us – by name.

On that very first Easter, there is only one way that Mary Magdalene knows that Jesus is risen from the dead.
There is only one way that Mary learns that the body of Jesus has not been stolen.
There is only one way that Mary discovers that the mysterious guy beside the empty tomb is not a gardener.
Mary knows that Jesus is risen,
Only when the risen Jesus calls her by name:
Mary.

Jesus is alive!
And Mary knows this, she is sure of this:
Only because Jesus calls Mary by her name.

There is power and dignity and recognition – when someone calls us – by name.

In the Easter story from the Gospel of John in the Bible, Mary Magdalene stands outside the empty tomb weeping.
In her tears, Mary is upset and afraid and she implores:
“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Then Jesus speaks to Mary, but Mary just assumes that he is the gardener.
Even hearing the voice of Jesus speaking to her, she still does not recognize him.

cry2

Then Jesus says:
“Mary,”
And immediately Mary knows that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

So she runs and tells the male disciples:
“I have seen the Lord!”
Yet Luke’s Gospel reports that the male disciples did not believe the women.

Jesus is alive!
And I know this, I am sure of this:
Because Jesus calls me by my name.

Beginning at my baptism, I was given a name.
At baptism, with my name, I was crucified with Jesus and raised to new life with him.

Then continuing with my confirmation, the bishop called me by my name, empowering me to go into all the world and proclaim that I have seen the risen Lord.

Each and every Sunday in church, I am called by my name by fellow church goers.
Each Sunday in church, I am called by name and empowered by the Word of God which challenges me, and by the Bread of Heaven which preserves me unto eternal life.

And away from church, I am called by my name.
My family calls me by my name, letting me know that I loved for who I am.
People whom I work with in our diocese call me by my name, challenging me to work for the kingdom of Jesus, rather than the kingdom of emperors and presidents.
And I am called by my name each and every morning when I open the door of my Starbucks and I hear:
“Good morning, Jeff!”

For there is power and dignity and recognition – when someone calls us – by name.

My friends:
Jesus is alive!
And I know this, I am sure of this:
Because Jesus calls me by my name.

In my quiet times of prayer, Jesus is alive and he calls me by my name.
In prayer, the living Jesus calls me by my name, comforting me with his grace and love.
In prayer, the living Jesus calls me by my name, with specific instructions, specific orders:
To speak truth to power, to act when I see injustice, to go to uncomfortable places and unlikely people in order to love all of God’s people.

Today is Easter Day.
And today we proclaim that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive.

Of course, this is a day of personal victory.
Jesus has defeated death, and according to our baptism, we are now raised to new life with him.
And we know this – because the risen Jesus calls each of us – by name.

Yet I think that we neglect a part of the Easter message if we only focus on our own personal salvation.
Because it is important to note – who is the very first person whom the risen Jesus calls by name.
The very first name that the risen Jesus utters is:
Mary.

And Mary Magdalene is a woman.
Mary is brown-skinned.
Mary’s news of resurrection is not believed by the men.
Mary is probably more used to being called “hey you” – rather than by her name.

And the Easter message is not only about our own personal calling and resurrection.
The Easter message is about calling all people, not just some people, by their name.

Because in some ways, our society hasn’t changed much in 2000 years.
Brown-skinned people are still racially profiled.
Women are still not believed by men.
The privileged still have well-known names, while others are called “hey you.”

Yet the first name spoken by the risen Jesus is:
Mary.

For there is power and dignity and recognition – when someone calls us – by name.

Therefore, the good news of Easter is not only personal.
The good news of Easter is political and social.
The good news of Easter empowers all people, all people, with human dignity and justice.
The good news of Easter – is that all people, all people, are called by their name.

For Jesus is our risen Shepherd.
And we are his sheep.
And the good Shepherd calls all of his sheep, not just some of his sheep.
Calling us – by name.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

I know this, I am sure of this:
Because Jesus calls me –
By my name.

AMEN.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: