New Revised Standard Version
24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb,
taking the spices that they had prepared.
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they went in, they did not find the body.
4 While they were perplexed about this,
suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.
5 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.
6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
7 that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified,
and on the third day rise again.”
8 Then they remembered his words,
9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James,
and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
12 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.
Luke tells us it was early dawn when the women arrived at the tomb. A time of day associated with mystery. The light is dim, it is difficult to see; our eyes can play tricks on us. Was Jesus’ body really gone? Or was it simply too dark to see? The preceding days had been exceedingly difficult and we can expect that the apostles, the men and the women, were exhausted both physically and emotionally. Perhaps the angelic messengers were simply the product of grief having its way with their overtaxed emotions.
We can certainly learn and take heart from what we read about the women in Luke’s Gospel. They went into the tomb at early dawn to anoint Jesus’ body. They found the tomb empty, but there and then encountered angels. These brave women remained in spite of their fear and heard what the angels had to say. The angels helped them to “remember.”
The blog “Salt+” offers us this bit of wisdom: “The Greek term for ‘remember’ here — mimnesko — means more than just mere recollection; it means something more like ‘to bring past actions to bear on the present, with new power and insight. … It’s a tangible, consequential kind of recalling, a form of remembering that is at the same time a form of action — and for the women at the tomb, it carries the force of an epiphany and a commission’: “Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.”
We can also learn and take consolation from the actions, and inactions of others in this passage. Many did not believe the women and did nothing. Peter went to see for himself and returned home, amazed.
Two thousand years later, it can all be explained away, logically. Right?
For some perhaps, but not for all.
I believe in the mystery of that morning nearly two thousand years ago which ushered in the dawn of a new day, a new era.
Today is Easter Sunday! The story doesn’t end here. It begins here. Easter morning beckons us to enter into the fifty-day season of Pentecost. Eastertide we call it. We let the mystery wash over us day after day, as we join with apostles past, present, and future interested in exploring what our faith means.
During these fifty days of Pentecost, during the remainder of our lives, we will experience doubts and confusion and fear right alongside of our amazement, right alongside of our faith. That is okay. We are in good company. Our Holy Scriptures make it abundantly clear that one need not be perfect to be a follower of Jesus.
As members of the United Church of Christ, we worship a “still speaking” God; a Living God.
Why would we look for the living among the dead? Our Savior is not contained by a tomb. Our Savior has defeated death and is alive – in, around, and among us.
Have you seen the Christ? Have you heard the whisperings of the Holy Spirit? Don’t look in the empty tomb. Don’t look only in our houses of worship. Look for God in people and circumstances “out there.” You will find the Living God engaged in ministry in our cities, in our rural communities, with our youth and our elders. You will find the Living God with our people living on the margins of society, those struggling with addictions, those experiencing food insecurity, those without a place to lay their heads at night. You will find the Living God wherever there is injustice, standing with those suffering, and standing beside those working to right wrongs and bring the new world order to fruition.
The Holy Spirit of Christ descended on the apostles as tongues of fire at the first Festival of Pentecost. As we empty ourselves and make room within our hearts and minds, that same Spirit inhabits us.
The God of Love is present. The God of Compassion is with us. The God of Hope is leading us onward to the time when there is no more suffering in this world. It does not happen in a single day. It is happening over the course of many seasons. It was begun that morning two thousand years ago. It is our work to continue; to keep moving forward, to bring God’s promise of salvation to all.
A new day is dawning. We are witnesses to the risen Christ. Like the women at the tomb – that not only remembered but acted on their newfound insights – go and tell what the God of Love has done. Go and tell what the God of Love is doing. Be a part of the Good News with all that you do and say.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!
Rev. TJ Mack – Union Congregational Church of Hancock