Today is Easter 2017. Happy Easter! This is a great time of the year. The days are getting longer. The skies are clearer, except here in the Northwest. Flowers are blooming all over the place. It’s a time of renewed hope and energy to take on what is wrong and try to right it. To try and push back falsehoods with truth. I think we are up to the tasks before us. This day marks a day unlike any other. It is a day that something remarkable happened. A day that in reality should be unbelievable considering who were the eye witnesses to the event. An event that if untrue, should have disappeared into the mists of time because it does not comport with what we know of the physical world. It is worth taking a look at the facts not just the beliefs that have endured for two millennia. Roman soldiers who were assigned by the governor to guard a tomb were startled at an event that rolled back stone covering the grave they were guarding. They ran. They left their guard posts, something that would have been punished, maybe with imprisonment or even death by Pilate. Why would they have recounted such a strange story and risk punishment? Then, of course, is the extraordinary news carried back to the eleven still in hiding by none other than a woman and not a guy.
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. (John 20)
One would think that the writers of the Gospels would have used a man to discover the extraordinary empty tomb. But no, it was a woman, Mary of Magdala who discovered a truth that would eventually change the world. This small discovery would have earth shaking significance. I think that’s an important tidbit for consideration. (She will also be the first to see the risen Jesus.) But above all is the event itself. Myths endure and we eventually know them as myths. The empty tomb story would have been news for a while but it too would have died out over time. I don’t think people would have been thrown to the lions in the Colosseum or crucified if they thought the story was a myth. It doesn’t make sense. So rather than dismiss the story outright, maybe it’s worth another look.
Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened…Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.(Col 3)
Now it’s time to set the world on fire, to be bearers of truth with compassion and love. We welcome the stranger, give hope to the oppressed, feed the hungry and embrace the hopeless. That is the truth of today and everyday. The events of the last three days, ending with Easter places more of an urgency on us to do what is right and true.
and so it goes…