NOTE: There are several people in the following all too familiar reading. As you read, consider the viewpoint of one of the women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, or all the rest) or Peter or one of the disciples.
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.[a] 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women[b] were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men[c] said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.[d] 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.[e] (Luke 24:1-12 NRSV)
The women arrive at the tomb. They expect to find a body to prepare for final burial. What they get is two men in dazzling clothes, an empty tomb and a reminder.
What they get is resurrection.
Unexpected. Unbelievable. Confusing.
What does it mean?
The women are perplexed and then terrified. When they report back to the men, they’re met with disbelief. Peter runs to the tomb and returns home amazed.
What does it mean?
It means that everything has changed.
Should they grieve or celebrate? What happens now? Will the apostles return to their fishing boats and their tax collector’s booths? They feel as they’re standing on shaky ground. The future that held grief holds…what?
The world has never seen anything like this before.
“We’ve never done it like this before.’ These are the seven deadly words of the Church. The church watches their numbers move steadily downward. Churches close while Mega Churches open. Members come in the front door and leave through the back door. Arguments ensue about worship style. Contemporary bands versus organs and pianos. Hymnbooks are replaced with screens and graphics.
“We’ve never done it this way before.” Brave churches allow themselves to die. They give up all the sacred cows: the old-style worship, the women’s Study Groups, the family night dinners, Sunday school curriculum that should have died twenty years ago.
Theses churches risk an early demise. Doing church the old way isn’t working, so they give it up and turn to God for leadership. In many cases resurrection happens! They discover ministry outside their front doors. A new vibrancy occurs that becomes electric. Their excitement spreads and they enter into one new thing after another.
Resurrection. A new thing. Resurrection. We’ve never done it this way before. Resurrection. A future with the risen Christ that begins with amazement and terror.
When you read this scripture whose point of view did you take? Was it the women? Or Peter? Or one of the disciples?
What did you notice? How does that speak to you? What did you read in this text that you never noticed before?
How might this change your perspective? your life? your future? Perhaps you’re ready to enter into a hazy future that will become clearer with each new step.
Easter people live that way. Easter people allow the risen Christ to change who they are in order to serve the people Christ loves. Easter people like who they have become and seek to follow Christ into new places.
Jesus is Risen. We’re still confused at this new reality that is born every Easter morning. Change will continue for these disciples and will cost them their lives. Change will continue for us whether we embrace resurrection or hang onto the past.
We can wander away in confusion or we can continue to live and move and serve our risen Lord day by day.
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!