Luke 24: 1-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While 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.Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But 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.
On that first Easter, the women return in faithfulness, in the fading night, to the borrowed tomb where Jesus has been placed. They come to do the important, gritty, difficult work of preparing Jesus properly for burial. I’m sure in their minds they were grieving and in shock over the unimaginable turn of events. Perhaps they were also thinking of how their time with Jesus would now be only a memory, a good memory of his ministry and faithful witness to God and also a sad memory of a tragic and untimely death.
Their discovery of the empty tomb made no sense at first. How could Jesus simply be gone? But God has a way of turning memory into hope. The heavenly messenger appears and reminds the women that Jesus has risen, just as he said. The empty tomb suddenly changes from a place of grief to a place of faith, a place where God speaks. The faithfulness and commitment of these women to care for Jesus results in an amazing encounter that transforms their understanding of God’s power over death. In Easter, God confronts us with a new reality of faith, a faith that can overcome the largest human obstacles. It is a faith that can move through the stone-sealed tombs of despair and, fear and bring new life to all of us. We draw enormous spiritual strength from Easter, strength that touches the core of our lives and world, showing us that God can accomplish far more than we can imagine. There is no condition in life that God cannot help us face. Paul will reflect on the power of God when he says in Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And we would remember, too, that Easter becomes more than just a memorable event for the early church, more than a time to honor a great moment of faith. Easter is not just a reminder of what God can do, but an experience that continues, bringing the presence of the risen Christ to us in every age and time. We can stand up to difficulty, evil, and even death, as we are empowered and sustained by God’s resurrection message for us. Christ is risen! May we welcome and celebrate the power of God’s love that still reaches into our world, our lives and our faith.
A Prayer for Easter: God of life, touch us with your resurrection power and hope that can move us to know and live the abundant life that Christ promised and offered to all. May Easter bring us a renewed faith that is strong in your love. Amen.
Rev. Dave Summers