On Seeking Christ
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This talk suggests that the best way to celebrate Easter is to seek Christ in our personal lives. We seek Christ by serving others, by living virtuously, and by reforming our nature through repentance. Given in the Easter Sacrament Meeting of the Sterling Park Ward on Sunday 12 April 2009.
On Seeking Christ
A Talk Given in the Easter Sacrament Meeting of the
Sterling Park Ward, Ashburn, VA Stake
By D. Calvin Andrus, Bishop
12 April 2009, Version 0.1
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Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This holiday is the most sacred of the year. We have been inspired, moved, and uplifted by the beautiful choir program. Thank you Sister Clark, Sister Donnelly, Sister Andrus, Sister Nielsen, and the choir members for your service in helping us praise and worship the Lord this afternoon.
At sunrise, on the morning of the resurrection, a group of women including a woman named Salome (Mark 16:1-2), a woman named Joanna (Luke 24:10), Mary the mother of James, and Mary of Magdala got up early to visit the tomb. Their intention was to anoint Jesus's dead body with spices. On the walk to the tomb, they wondered how they were going to roll the stone back so they could get in (Mark 16:3). Their faith propelled them forward, even though they had no ready solution to that problem. When they arrived, to their amazement and concern, the stone had already been rolled away. They decided to investigate to see what was going on. Upon entering the tomb, they discovered that the body was gone.
Depending on the account, either one or two angels then addressed the women, scaring them so badly they fell to the ground. The angels told the women not to be afraid, though it seems this admonition did little to quell their fear. The angels continued with these famous words, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen" (Luke 24:5-6). The angels then requested the women to go tell the Apostles that Jesus was risen from the dead.
The women complied with the request and with a mixture of joy and apprehension returned to tell their tale to the Apostles. The Apostles received the message of Jesus's resurrection with a large dose of skepticism. Peter and John decided to see for themselves what was going on. They ran to the tomb, with Mary Magdalene walking behind. John arrived first and paused at the entrance of the tomb. When Peter arrived, he pushed past John and went right in. The two men learned for themselves that Jesus was not in the tomb. They decided it was not safe for them to be there and ran back to the other Apostles, I am sure passing Mary Magdalene on the way. You can almost imagine her wondering why they were going the wrong way.
In spite of the fact that Jesus was not in the tomb, and the two Apostles were not trying to find the body at the tomb, Mary continued back to the tomb. As she considered her options, she was overcome with grief and began to cry. She went back into the tomb. Again, two angels were there. She seemed to be getting used to these angels because rather than tell her not to be afraid, they asked why she was crying. She responded that someone had taken her Lord and she didn't know where he was. Wanting to continue her search for Jesus, she turned and walked out of the tomb into the garden.
At that point, she saw a man, whom she thought might be the gardener. She asked him that if he had taken Jesus's body, could he please return it. It turns out that that Man had indeed taken the body and He was indeed returning it. It's just that He was not the gardener, and he was returning the body to His Father, not to Mary. In responding to Mary's request, he spoke her name. She recognized His voice. She ran to hug Him. But He forbade her saying, that while he was resurrected, he had not yet ascended to His Father. He asked her to return again to the Apostles and tell them that her seeking was successful; that she had found Jesus; that He was alive; and that He would visit them soon.
Mary did as she requested and returned to the Apostles.
It is no mystery why Christ showed himself first to Mary of Magdala, rather than to his Apostles. She was the only one out there looking for Him. She was persistent. She went to the tomb twice. She had conversed with angels twice. She carried the spices on the first trip and probably on the second trip. In spite of the obstacles placed in her path -- such as a stone she could not move, a body should could not find, apostles who did not believe her, making multiple trips to tomb, carrying a load of spices, and angels who either scared her or did not help her look for the body -- she was determined to overcome and serve the Lord.
Mary's experience teaches us that seeking Christ is not a casual endeavor. Seeking Christ is a journey with obstacles to overcome. Seeking Christ is sometimes a lonely pursuit. Seeking Christ can be frustrating. Seeking Christ is not a one-time activity. Seeking Christ may, at times, seem to have no end in sight. Seeking Christ requires persistence. Seeking Christ requires faith. Seeking Christ is done with the objective of helping others. Seeking Christ is not a fruitless exercise. Seeking Christ is a prerequisite to finding Christ. And, in finding Christ, we will meet the measure of our creation.
We have celebrated Christ's resurrection today by praising Him through music and the spoken word. Let us celebrate the resurrection during the coming year, by seeking Him through serving others; by seeking Him through living a virtuous life; by seeking Him through repenting of our sins; by seeking Him through becoming Christlike in all we say and do.
Brothers and sisters, I know that my Redeemer lives. I know the atonement is real. I know the resurrections is real. I know one day He will call our names. To this I bear my personal witness. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.