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Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 16:1–8

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. (NRSV)

It feels strange to sit and write this devotional for Easter. At the moment of my writing, we have just begun Lent. Ashes were recently imposed on foreheads big and small. We have begun our walk to the cross together. Furthermore, I have just received word of another death in our congregation, and the Department of Homeland Security put out a warning for people who shop in malls to be aware of possible terrorist activity. So in many ways, today, at the end of February, Easter is the last thing on my mind.

And yet isn’t that always the way it is? The women on their way to the tomb must have felt the same way. They had watched from a distance as Jesus made his last sounds, took his last breath, and gave up his life. They saw people take down his body from the cross, move it to a borrowed tomb, and seal it up. So I imagine death, grief, and fear were the emotions filling their days, too. Easter would have certainly been the last thing on their minds. But . . .

That was not the end of the story. On that early morning, they might have been dressed in grief’s clothing and carrying the accoutrements of death, but Life was not finished with them yet. God was still at work, bringing newness to birth in the midst of the chaos. I simply cannot imagine the emotional whiplash the women surely felt as they made their way to that tomb, only to see it empty except for a holy messenger proclaiming resurrection. As William Sloane Coffin preached, “We can kill God’s Love, but we cannot keep it dead and buried!” Indeed. And that is always the way it is, too. Thanks be to God.

Gracious God, we cannot find the words to say thank you with the depth of emotion that we feel. You continue to amaze us and throw us off, by your work of bringing life out of death, newness out of chaos, love out of despair. On this day, on every day, remind us that you are still at work and that Easter always rises. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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