Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 21 2019
24But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Happy New Year!
I know that the celebration of the New Year is an artificial construct. I know it cannot possibly signify anything much beyond the purchase of a blank calendar yet to be filled with the expected and the unexpected happenings of the next 12 months. Yes, it is Easter we celebrate this week. And of course, Easter signifies the ultimate of new beginnings for those who believe.
With each passing year, I begin to face the calendar-designated new year with not a little trepidation. In the latter era of one’s life, there is more of death and loss than the anticipation of new adventures. But Easter is the day that outdoes all the new years’ celebrations and resolutions and hopes and fears. For this event inaugurates the kingdom of God opened for us in grace and glory.
When the women at the tomb were queried about the sense that it made to look for the living among the dead, they had arrived at what the Gaelic folk called a “thin place,” a place where the curtain between earth and heaven has parted long enough for the spiritually alert to be reminded that we are participants in two worlds. And, of course, when the women returned to tell the disciples what they had (and hadn’t) seen, the men thought their entire recitation was nonsense! Good Peter had the courage and the hopefulness of nascent faith to retrace their steps to see for himself and when he arrived, he was also affected by this luminal place and left amazed and changed in ways he had yet to understand.
Birth and death are fraught with “thinness.” Blogger Beth Scibienski wrote,
“… life and death with Jesus remains unpredictable. Following this man who taught anywhere people were sitting, healed the sick, touched the untouchable, lifted up the poor, called into question those in power, turned the law on its head, and went straight ahead into his death, he surprised them all the time. Doesn't he still surprise us? If we were told that Jesus wasn't where we last left him, would we sit idly by or would we run toward mystery?”
This Easter gospel is our “new year’s” reminder that regardless of what awaits us in our renewed Christian year, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus surmounts, surpasses and surprises us with grace, with the upside-down, table-turning, death-destroying reckless love of God. And the announcement first came from people just like us. Women at the lower end of society’s power structure, and reinforced by the fair-weather disciple whose loyalty was regularly trumped by fear and uncertainty. This is the gospel we need. The gospel that says, “I died and rose precisely because I loved each and every flawed, flailing, feckless one of you. To death and back. All for you.” ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN INDEED. ALLELUIA!
e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
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