When circumstances don’t make sense, what do we do? The women went to Jesus’ tomb, no doubt still reeling from his trial, torture and public death. They could at least make some sense of it by anointing his body after a hasty burial. But then surprise after surprise, each shocking, each unexpected: the tomb open, the stone rolled aside, the body missing, and then the two men suddenly there, in dazzling clothes. No wonder they were terrified!
And yet, when reminded, the women could recall the promise and suddenly things fell into place. Can we blame them for their confusion and terror? Can we blame the apostles who could not believe the fantastical story the women told, an idle tale? In spite of the promise, can we believe it? Jesus, raised from the dead?
When our faith seems powerless because death is too close; when we have lost track of our holiness, the promise that we are made in the image of God; when we can no longer see in our neighbor the face of Jesus; when we despair over the damage done to us or that which we have done to others; then we must stand in the tomb with the women, and later, with Peter.
Today, Easter, we see that he is gone, the linen cloths without the body. Today, we gather at the Eucharist, to taste and see the risen Christ, given and shed for you. Recall the promise. In Jesus, from every death, life will rise again. New life is yours.
Rev. Catherine Malotky is an ELCA pastor serving as Director of Development at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.
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