It had been a very long, lonely, scary Saturday. It actually had begun on Friday at sundown. It was Sabbath – a day quite set apart from the other six in a week. The darkness was eerily quiet, a quiet that was like no other. Everything seemed to be suspended in a place that held no time or reference that a human mind could fully explain.
It was natural during this dark night that ones mind would turn with rapid and unfocused speed to many different thoughts. Sleep was not possible, so there was really nothing else to do but sit and contemplate. Thoughts, quite naturally, turned to another still and quiet night. A night in which the darkness was pierced by a bright star glowing in the heavens with a singleness of purpose. That particular night was about shepherds, angels singing of the glory of God and the gentle cries of a new born baby suddenly breaking the quiet with the proclamation of redemption, possibility and a new hope for humankind.
Tonight, there would be no such sudden cry.
After what had seemed endless hours it was suddenly time. The first faint glow of light was beginning to break through the heavenly sky and at last reveal the faintest beginnings of a new day. What would it hold? What would this day bring? One of pro-found grief and sorrow was all that one could think would be possible after the events of several days ago.
And so, some devoted, loyal and faithful women approached what had once been a cave. They walked slowly for the weight of their grief hung upon them. Their pain felt like splinters of wood piercing their hearts. Their hands ached in anguish as if huge nails had been driven into them. It was a deep reminder of what had happened and why they were now coming as they were to this place.
With each step they came closer to their destination and with each step the light became a little brighter. Suddenly something did not seem, nor feel, right. Had they come to the right place? It was not at all as they had left it. The entrance of the cave, where once there had been placed a huge stone, was now wide open. The stone that had been rolled to block that opening was now off to the side exposing the entrance. Had someone already come and opened the cave, this borrowed tomb of death, so that the women could enter and prepare the body that had been left inside for burial?
The women slowly approached, not exactly sure what was going on. The light was beginning to brighten and the women could suddenly see into the tomb. Where there had once been the darkness of death there was now light and they could see that the body was no longer where it had been left. What did remain was a white linen cloth that had once wrapped the body in a cocoon-like manner of repose.
And so Mary Magdalene, confused, and with tears streaming down her flushed face, dropped the spices she had brought and began to run from the tomb until she came upon the Disciple Peter. With breathless speech she managed to proclaim, “They had taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have taken him.”
Without another word they both ran back in the direction of the tomb, but Peter arrived first and stopped suddenly when he saw that what she had said to him was true. The cloths that had wrapped Jesus were lying a bit disheveled on the ground and the cloth that had covered his head was rolled and set neatly off to the other side. Without another word Peter, and another disciple who also ran and met him at the tomb, left, and slowly walked away in silence.
Mary, alone and staring into the tomb now totally filled with the light of the new days sun, suddenly heard a lone voice calling to her, saying, simply, “Mary.” And she knew at once that it was her Lord. He had risen and was no longer dead, no longer a slave to the darkness of the tomb, but alive. At once the piercing pain of the splinters she had felt in her heart, and the sorrow and anguish of nails driven into her palms was lifted. Mary was unable to speak, unable to move, but she knew at that moment that everything in the world was now changed.
Easter is about resurrection. It is about new hope in the light of a new day. It is about being released from the scary darkness of what had been – and into the light of what can now be.
It was to Peter that Mary first announced the risen Lord. Her announcement to him set in motion a world altering chain of events. Peter would at that moment begin to take in what had happened. To suddenly reflect back to all that Jesus had ever said and all that Jesus had ever done.
It had been to Peter that Jesus had proclaimed that through him he would build his church. This same Peter who had walked toward Jesus on a raging sea. Peter, who when asked by Jesus, “who do you say that I am? had replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This same Peter who had been rebuked by Jesus when he said Jesus must never suffer and die, and Peter, who would deny knowing Jesus three times on the night that Jesus is led away to be falsely accused of treason. Now it is this self-same Peter who understands the miracle of resurrection.
Much later, as recorded in the book of Acts, Peter is preaching to the people when he says: “We are witnesses to all that Jesus did in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded witnesses to preach to the people and to testify that he is the ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness through his name.”
Now, in 2016, we are called to be among those witnesses. Now, through our faith and belief we are called to proclaim resurrection.
In the place of sorrow and pain to see renewal. In the place of weeping to hear the Angels sing. In the place of faces flushed with tears to experience renewal, purpose, understanding and freedom.
Resurrection is about life. Living life fully, and completely, each and every moment.
In the face of adversity roll back that stone of sorrow and let the light of resurrection lead you in joy to what is next for you.
We are witnesses to resurrection as we breathe life. We are witnesses when we see possibility where others would see defeat, and we are witnesses when, upon hearing the sounds of nature all around us, we affirm that God is now and forever a God of perfect creation. We are witnesses by forever being in awe and wonder to all that God is doing in the world.
Death never has the last word. Spirit is never broken – it may change how it is to be experienced – but a Resurrection Spirit will live forever in the actions and words of those who accept it and see Its possibility for everyone.
And so it is. Amen.
Rev. Jefferson Beeker
We live our lives one thought at a time. Let each of those thoughts really count for something wonderful.
Be prepared to change your thinking and change your life.
Follow me on Twitter @jeffersonbeeker