they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10
After the Sabbath, at early dawn on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, the other Mary and the others went to look at the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared, that they might anoint Jesus’ body.
As they were on their way to the tomb 3 they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 16:4 because it was very big. Looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back.
Matthew 28:2-7, Mark 16:5-7
2 There had been a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it, on the right. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, because I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
8 Trembling and bewildered, the other women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy.
Matthew 28:8, John 20:2
They were going to tell Simon, the other disciple whom he loved and the other disciples, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
9 Suddenly Jesus met them, the women. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
11 Now Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “ Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
I ran across an internet meme yesterday that had Star Trek’s Captain Kirk asking the question, Why do people say tuna fish when they don’t say beef mammal or chicken bird? Good question! Perhaps that is part of the reason that I’ve tried to make a default of writing or saying Easter Resurrection Sunday, rather than just Easter Sunday. Or maybe it’s because Easter Resurrection Sunday doesn’t have as much to do about bunnies and chicks and candy as plain, ol’ Easter Sunday has.
Easter bonnets and bow ties and little purses and suspenders are so adorable, don’t get me wrong. And perhaps it is easy or fun or convenient to link the cute side of Easter with the serious side of Easter. The thing is, Easter Resurrection is so much more than a nice worship service, a new outfit or a holiday meal - most of which are drastically different this year - in one way or another.
I also came across in interesting article yesterday, right before starting to write this message, and it was as if God plunked it right on top of my compute keyboard. It came from the website medium.com, of which I know nothing about, except that it says that it’s a site to “get smarter about what matters to you.” And not that that has really anything to do with the point, but just in case you were wondering about the efficacy of the following from the hand of Julio Vincent Gambuto. What caught my attention was how it reveals some of the same aspects of life after Jesus had risen from the dead and how that drama - in a good way, drama - affected the lives of his followers.
Mr. Gambuto wrote, “very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal….Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms — a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lay in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.
For the last hundred years, the multi-billion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to re-paint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful…. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to re-wire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.”
Incidentally, I don’t offer that piece as a criticism of the advertising industry, because that is how some individuals put food on the table and pay the bills. And sometimes, they come up with some pretty good stuff. It is, however, just a reminder that we have some responsibilities to think about as life continues forward.
The timing of the world’s current pandemic is so interesting, surrounding one of Christianity’s most sacred week’s and day. If churches could be open, I wonder how many would be filled - literally - with people looking for the Good News that Christians boast about.
On that first Easter Resurrection morning, after finding the empty tomb, before Jesus ascended back to God, there must have been so many crazy thoughts going through the followers’ minds. Now what do we do? We’ve been following Jesus for three years and he said to continue in his ministry. But how? How will we eat? Where will we sleep? What if any of us gets sick? Who will care for us? And the bigger, more gut seated thought - I wish I could go back to my simple life as a fisherman or tax collector or whatever else aspects of life that the first disciples missed in their ease and seeming simplicity.
Being 21st century followers of Christ, we know - and celebrate - the fact that he rose form the dead and went back to God, waiting for each of us to go home, too. It’s just that sometimes that knowledge doesn’t seem as strong or relevant as it might or could be. And that “uncertainty” is certainly not new, either. Which is why it’s an important thing that we celebrate not only Christ’s resurrection, but his love in the cup and life in the bread and meal that we share together.
As we share this bread, we do so in similar fashion as Christ shared it with his disciples that last night in the upper room, after having given thanks for it, blessing it, and giving it to the disciples to eat, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then taking a cup, and when he had given thanks, giving it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. And the apostle Paul reminds us that every time we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, we proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection. In the tradition of this church family, all are welcome at this meal, as Christ serves us, just as he did back then and all through the ages since then.
Let us pray. Holy and Glorious God, thank you for giving us your most precious gift - that of your son - your risen and ascended son who has given us the promise of life after our own deaths, that eternal life with you, your son, your Spirit, and all those who have gone before us. Thank you for reminding us to seek not that which may be “normal,” but that which is true and right and noble and eternal. Deepen our understandings of what it means to be followers of Christ, and the faith that it takes to be such a one. As we wait for the day when we can join together once again, help our hearts to be concerned with what is important, and to let go of those things that only drag us down. In the gratitude of being your sons and daughters, your people of life and light and love, all your people say, Amen.