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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018

Today’s Scripture 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)

No other event in the Christian church calendar causes us to probe the meaning of life than Easter Day. The probe is not so much about a philosophy of life or the question, “Why live?” The probe centers on the holy equation of life, death, and resurrection. Is life only what happens between birth and death or is there more? Is the resurrection of the body, which we recite in the Apostles’ Creed every week in worship a metaphor, or do we really believe it?

I stood by the bedside of my mother-in-law last August. She had lived ninety-three good years and two difficult ones at the end. A vibrant woman, Mary Lou was on her game, literally, until she was ninety-three. An avid Bridge player; landing her tennis serve; winning the ninety-plus seniors putting competition at her golf club—she was remarkable. She began to decline at ninety-three and did not like it one bit—nor did we, to be honest. As all of her family surrounded her in her active dying at her retirement community, the question that arose for us was, “Is this it? Or is there something more?” She was so alive, for so long. So now what?

In his slim volume Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner recounts, “After lecturing learnedly on miracles, a great theologian was asked to give a specific example of one. ‘There is only one miracle,’ he answered. ‘It is life.’”

The women who tore from the tomb with the news, “He is risen,” found life where death had been laid. Those of us who are on this side of the tomb, by our lives being lived this day, also live in the reality that beyond the grave life awaits. That is the true miracle given to us through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Give us life, O God, true and abundant life, and equip us by your grace to live as those who know the miracle of life made known in the resurrection of Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

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