Sunday of Myrrh-Bearing Women 2018
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and Of the Holy Spirit - Amen
“ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage”.
This is a typical definition of bravery. These past few days, I have asked a few people who they considered to be brave and I have been surprised how difficult people found it to answer that question! If I were to ask you who you consider to be brave I wonder what you would say? I did a quick check online to see which individuals are considered to be the bravest in History. I wonder if you would agree with this list?
Galileo Galilei Dietrich Bonhoeffer Witold Pilecki Helen Keller Moses Jesus Christ Giuseppe Garibaldi Martin Luther King Nelson Mandela Winston Churchill Rosa Parks Socrates Muhammad Ali Maximilian Kolbe Mahatma Gandhi Desmond Tutu Dalai Lama Amelia Earhart Harriet Tubman
There’s church in Ruddington that has two graves containing the remains of two soldiers who fought at the battle of Rorkes Drift. It was January 1829, at Rorkes Drift that just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. Now although I have no interest at all in military history, since a child I have been fascinated by the movie ‘ZULU’ and have always considered the soldiers at Rorkes Drift to have shown tremendous courage.
Today - the second Sunday after Pascha – we remember and celebrate the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women. But not only them! We also remember Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Why? Who are these people? The Gospels hardly seem to mention them! What did they do that was so special?
Well they all have something in common – They all exemplify perfect love, bravery and faithfulness.
Let us consider their actions! At great personal risk to themselves, and at a time when all seemed lost, when most all had abandoned Christ, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for our Lord’s body and took him down from the cross.
Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, had visited Jesus, under cover of darkness, spent a huge sum of money on myrrh and aloes, was then cast out of the synagogue, and suffered for disclosing the Jewish plot to hide and deny the truth of Jesus Crucifixion and Resurrection. It was Nicodemus who helped Joseph of Arimathea to bury our Lord.
Then, after the body of our Lord had been sealed in the tomb, and whilst others hid in fear, the brave Myrrh-Bearing women, risked everything, out of love for Christ, to anoint him with myrrh and sweet spices.
For all of them this was a moment of great personal crisis. But they did not think of themselves. Instead they ministered to the body of Christ with selfless love! None of them had gotten what they wanted, not Joseph of Arimathea, not Nicodemus, not the Myrrh-Bearing women. All were grieving, and I am sure they were all experiencing intense feelings of fear and disappointment. Nothing had turned out as expected. Yet despite thisthey resisted the temptation to think only of themselves! And because they were able to keep their focus on serving Jesus they reacted very differently to the other disciples.
In their own way, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and the Myrrh-Bearing women, all showed immense courage, showed selfless sacrifice, showed their love and respect for Jesus and his body! Now this should be of considerable concern to each of us, because we, each and every one of us, is called to be a Myrrh-Bearer!
Like Joseph of Arimathea, like Nicodemus, like the Myrrh-bearing women, we too Know the truth of the Crucifixion.
We too know the truth of the resurrection and so, to become myrrh-bearers we need only to care for the Body of Christ.
Now the Apostle Paul teaches us that the church is the body of Christ (1 Cor12 v27 “Now you are the body of Christ”)
But of course, that is not as easy as it sounds! Like the Myrrh-Bearing women we too need to overcome our fears.
We need to show love and compassion, we need to give of ourselves and all we have, we need to make sacrifices.
To do anything for the Church, the Body of Christ, is not easy in todays’ world. The world tries to condemn the Church because our values are contrary to those of the world. The world tries to create scandal and controversy around the Church to dishearten us and to turn people away from the church. To do anything for the Church requires FAITH! And those with little faith will find they have little time or patience for the Church.
Today we remember Joseph of Arimathea, we remember Nicodemus, we remember Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Joses, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, Martha of Bethany, Sister of Lazarus, Mary of Bethany, Sister of Lazarus, Joanna, the wife of Chuza the steward of Herod Antipas, Salome, the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and Susanna. – The Myrrh-Bearing women. And as we remember them let us also remember and celebrate the Myrrh-Bearers amongst us!
Those Myrrh-bearers who sing in the choir,
Those Myrrh-bearers who bake the prosphora
Those Myrrh-bearers who clean, set up and dismantle the church
Those Myrrh-bearers who sew vestments, falls and alter covers
Those Myrrh-bearers who, make the tea, donate food, or washup
Those Myrrh-bearers who donate icons, make offerings of money
And Those Myrrh-bearers who simply and faithfully come along each week to worship and pray!
We are all called to be Myrrh-Bearers, we are all called to care for the body of Christ, The Church!
From last week’s canon …
“let us bring our hymns of praise to the Master instead of ointments, and we shall see Christ the Sun of Righteousness causing life to dawn for all.”
Through the prayers of all our Holy Fathers, O’ Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Amen