Is There Room for Surprise?
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5The 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. 6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But 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.
This was the day after the sabbath for them. And the sabbath for me has always been Sunday. The day after the sabbath is the day you go back to work. This was true for Jesus' friends. They came early in the morning because they weren't allowed to treat his body on the sabbath. It was "Monday." And like many other "Mondays" they expected one thing but got something else.
That doesn't really happen to us anymore on Easter. We get up, put on our Sunday best and go to church expecting the sanctuary to be decorated with flowers. We look forward to singing "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today, Alleluia!" We wait to be greeted the same way, year after year...
He Is Risen! Say it with me now... He Is Risen Indeed!
There are no surprises waiting for us on the first day of the week, are there?
In fact, the women told the others what they had seen and "it seemed to them an idle tale." Except for Peter - he ran to check it out himself. A surprise? on a Monday? something we didn't expect? Can it be true? What's happened? What's going on?
Some sit idly by when the unexpected happens. Some run towards it.
The missing body wasn't a good thing to find Monday morning. It provoked confusion, chaos, uncertainty, questions. This was cause for meetings - fear-filled, stress-filled, impatient meetings.
It's almost too bad that we know the story too well. We don't spent anytime with them at those meetings. We know that in just a few hours, that couple will walk with Jesus and be warmed by his presence and conversation. We know that in no time they will share a meal with him and they will recognize him in the breaking of the bread. We know the story and we leave little room on Easter Sunday for surprise.
There are traditions to be carried out - new dresses, dinner at grandmas, Easter baskets and egg hunts. That's where the real mystery is... where are those eggs? We've made it all very predictable. But that first Easter - there was nothing predictable. They had put their friend to rest. And then he went missing. He wasn't where they left him. Life with Jesus was never predictable. Life with Jesus always changed their agendas. Life with Jesus kept them guessing. Death with Jesus was no different.
And while our traditions keep surprises at bay, life and death with Jesus remains unpredictable. Following this man who taught anywhere people were sitting, healed the sick, touched the untouchable, lifted up the poor, called into question those in power, turned the law on its head, and went straight ahead into his death - he surprised them all the time. Doesn't he still surprise us?
If we were told that Jesus wasn't where we last left him, would we sit idly by or would we run toward mystery?
3/30/2013 01:24:27 pm
many thanks for the thoughtfulness, playfulness, seriousness ... and surprise in your message. it provides the basis for my own sermon ending for Easter Day this year and I'm grateful.
4/11/2014 05:30:04 am
Marvelous! Thank you!
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