Mark 16.1-8 “The Resurrection of Jesus”
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
From The New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition 1989,1995.
Easter 2020 will stand out in the living memory of all of us in St. Thomas’, and that memory will be etched forever into our lives as we move into the future. Collectively, we will not forget it. Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought to us completely new ways, completely new words and language and completely new experiences. We stay at home, self-isolate when necessary, but think about close family and friends elsewhere, with whom in normal circumstances we would be looking forward to meeting up with. We stand responsibly, two metres apart, in the temporary needs of social distancing. We shop and exercise differently, and when we get home we wash our hands with new purpose and rationale.
We think of all those who have seen their lives disrupted; new mothers, parents having to cope with ‘home schooling’, those teenagers who have had exams disrupted but also their engagement with their friends, so central to their lives, put on hold. And beyond that- lots of rites of passage have changed, getting into University, graduations, weddings, that first home, retirements and special birthdays marked. And very sadly, lives celebrated in thanksgiving through funeral services. Life’s key moments no more acknowledged or marked in the ways they always have been.
In this context, we appreciate and honour others in a different light, frontline doctors, nurses, medical teams. We rightly clap them at our gates each Thursday evening, but we also in a way clap an inexhaustible list of others, those in retail, essential workers, scientists, those who lead us…. And we think of and hope for and pray for those who are ill in hospital or at home, that they would recover. Within all of this, we should never underestimate the power of our individual and collective prayers.
Easter 2020 for us all, is full of serious purpose and necessary and practical ways, both seen and unseen.
The first Easter was like this. Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary, the mother of James have gone to the grave of Jesus with serious purpose and intention. Essentially their task is sad, but necessary within Jewish tradition, as they seek to complete the embalming of the body of Jesus. They wonder about the practicalities of how to get things done, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” However, it’s revealed to them that “Jesus of Nazareth… has been raised.”
Mary, Salome and Mary are at once, amazed, alarmed and afraid. As it sinks in, that Jesus is alive, no longer bounded by death, they have come upon, as first witnesses, the miracle of resurrection. They have also come upon a God who is intentional and a God of surprises. That the power behind that open garden tomb in Jerusalem, the resurrection of Jesus and his new life, breaks open our ordered customary world and lives with hope and new life.
Easter exhibits God’s power and the central claim of the Christian faith; that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the natural life cycle of this world is broken, that death is not the end.
Easter brings God’s power to us because he simply loves us and all of his creation. May that be our joy and why we can dare to walk in the ways that Jesus has taught us, why we can dare to walk in his ways of love, sacrifice and example.
Faith is indeed “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews11:1)
“You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. Therefore, my heart sings to you without ceasing; O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.” (Psalm 30:11-12)
Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
With love, Paul