The Bible gives us 4, 5 if we count Paul, perspectives on the life and ministry of Jesus. One thing that seems to be true across the stories, is that women were the first ones to the tomb. Maybe it was women’s work, to care for the bodies of the dead. Maybe they knew those disciples weren’t going to do it. In the Jewish tradition, the people are called to do “mitzvah” or good works throughout their lives. Caring for the bodies of the dead is the greatest Mitzvah because it is a gift that can never be repaid.
The women got up early. The Greek says “Deep Dawn,” which to me seems to describe both a sense of morning and the moments before the light breaks through. It was the earliest moments they could leave where they were staying and still be safe on the streets. They went to the cave, which was probably at the edge of the city, It had probably been a bit of a walk.
On their side of the Resurrection and they’re part of History I imagine it was shocking when they went and saw that the tomb that should have held Jesus was empty. and in their Wonder in their curiosity and their uncertainty in their questions they see these two people show up and dazzling lights.
Now Luke doesn’t tell us that their angels, that’s kind of implied to us. what they say to the women staring at an empty tomb and people clothed in? drenched in? surrounded by? A dazzling light is to not be afraid why do you look for the living among the Dead.
Well because they didn’t leave the living in a tomb. They looked for Jesus whom they watched die and the place Where you leave bodies. They were looking for the dead among the Dead. death is real people don’t move their experience tells them but anything’s RC now it’s already counterintuitive.
Why would they be afraid? why wouldn’t they.
but maybe we’re thinking about this wrong because maybe it isn’t about them being afraid fearful,. throughout the scriptures again and again the people of God Dan before God In Fear And in trembling, and we talked about fear of God. what if that’s that kind of fear? It’s that kind of fear that is often wonder and awe and amazement. The women are standing in this moment and they are aware JESUS has gone missing, that Jesus is not here, and that something Divine is at work. Resurrection is proclaimed to them it is announced.
What they do I know is that everything is new. from this moment going forward, nothing will be the same. their lives their worlds are going to be completely different in light of this Resurrection. And that can be scary. It’s change, it’s unknown, it can be filled with unexpected things. They don’t know how they will live in the future, they don’t know what this means for their city, their land that remains occupied, they don’t know what their role will be in this new reality, but they know that everything has changed.
I think we sometimes miss how radical resurrection is, how surprising it was, how in awe they must have been. We stand at the cross on Friday already knowing that Sunday is coming, already knowing that resurrection is just around the next corner. Sometimes I think we miss the awe.
But there is resurrection all around us, there is new life everywhere. It might be days when new growth burst forth from the ground each spring. It might be a fleeting moment of recognition in your loved ones eyes. Resurrection is hope and, oh how we need it. In the midst of loneliness and struggles, lost jobs and uncertain futures, sicknesses and death, we have needed hope, something to hold on to, that believe, that promise that things will not always be the way they are today.
Resurrection fear and awe exist for those who long to see new life, to want the world to change, to long for God’s loving presence bringing justice into our world and our lives.
Resurrection fear and afraid for those who long for the world to remain the same. Those for whom the status quo is working and sufficient, it is for them, that resurrection is that turns the world upside down is not good news.
Julia Esquivel wrote a beautiful and haunting poem called “They Have Threatened Us With Resurrection” in it she tells the stories of her native Guatemala and the struggles and violence they have endured since the 1950’s
it is not the noise in the streets
which does not let us sleep.
Join us in this vigil
and you will know what it is to dream!
Then you will know how marvelous it is
to live threatened with Resurrection!
To dream awake,
to keep watch asleep,
to live while dying,
and to know ourselves already
Resurrection is only a threat to those who long for the world to always stay the same.
While we too stand in awe of the new life around us, sometimes we have to mourn those places where change hasn’t come, yet, they systems of the world that deny abundant life, that deny life, that define some people as less, that keep some overworked and under paid, the suggest violence is an answer.
The Dazzling men called these first apostles of the Resurrection to remember. Remembering puts Jesus right in the middle of the Hebrew prophets: God remembered Noah, and Abraham and Lot, God remembered the Hebrew people and their crying out of Egypt. God remembers God’s people and calls us to remember that God took on flesh and lived among us and what Jesus taught us. We remember who we are and whose we are. We remember we are called beloved and children of God.
Because it’s hard to hope sometimes, It helps to remember, to be rooted in what Jesus said, in the promises of abundant living, in the community building, in the grace and forgiveness and welcome. Resurrection is hope with roots, it is the beginning of something new, it reminds us that death, death of body, a moment, a feeling, a place, a relationship, job, is not the end, and Resurrection is just the beginning of something new!
Remembering gives us courage. It gives us courage to live in this world when we see more clearly all the places where there isn’t resurrection, this isn’t new life, there isn’t change, when we see all the places that haven’t been changed by resurrection. Remembering give us courage to dismantle the systems that we have been taught to relay on and that are counter to abundant life. The systems of racism and white privilege, redemptive violence and might is right, economic oppression and hyper capitalism–we can move beyond these because our trust is in God, rooted in remembering, revealed in the life and resurrection of Jesus the Christ and the rest can be sinking sand that washes away because who we are is not threatened by it, not defined by it.
They might threaten us with Resurrection and may that bring you hope, may it bring you wonder and awe, may you recognize the new life already beginning around you.
Christ is Risen, Indeed.
Outdoor in the Parking Lot
We have been reading a book this Lent called “Another Name for Every Thing,” The other name is Christ. It’s Christ that moves and lives in all of creation, connects all of creation, and in whose life and death and resurrection all of life is reflected.
We wondered this week if maybe we, as followers of Jesus in our time and place, folks like us: nice, protestant, white (because the black church, for example, has a different culture), midwesterners, we don’t want to seem pushy about our faith and evangelizing, that we stopped telling the stories of our experiences with the Divine, that we’ve stopped having language for it, so we’ve stopped looking for it, we’ve stopped; noticing the divine, resurrection all around us. But what if we had the language to see it, to recognize it, to tell the story?
A decade ago now, journalist Andrew Solomon told a story of how, a decade earlier, right after the fall of the Taliban, he went to Kabul with the purpose of writing a story of the return of art in Afghanistan because under the 5 years under the Taliban, images of living creatures, music, singing, dancing, any form of art was strictly forbidden under penalty of death.
Andrew went to the UN offices and asked about the art in Afghanistan, and after being directed to several other offices, he was told, “There is no art in Afghanistan.” Can you imagine a world without your children’s drawings, without lullabies, without celebrating in dance? Andrew’s translator heard about and took him to the Kabul Art Museum which was having it’s grand re-opening. On the walls of the museum there were landscape paintings, ones that would not draw the ire of Taliban. The curator, at this reopening event, took a bucket of water and a sponge and washed at each canvas. When the Taliban rule began, he had carefully painted over each person and each animal so the art would not be destroyed, and here he was, cleaning the canvases, and they came to life, filled with creatures who had been hidden. The curator said there was lots of art in Afghanistan.
He sent Andrew to a painter of miniatures, holding on to a tradition of the past that others had sought to destroy. He sent Andrew to poets, giving words to their feelings, lifting their voices after have so long been silenced.
The poets sent Andrew to a singer who had clung on to the last shreds of music by filling his house with birds, not in cages, just everywhere in his home, because there is some music that cannot be silenced. The singer sent Andrew to musicians, practicing traditional music, on traditional instruments, in a house so cold they had to wear gloves. Some had kept their instruments mixed into their wood piles out back, finding comfort in their presence and believing they would play again.
Andrew invited them to play together, at the home he was renting, he invited all the journalists he knew there, and the artists and the poets he had met along the way, and the folks who said there was no art. As the house started to fill, the musicians started to play and they didn’t stop. They one at a time so the music wouldn’t stop. And the curfew to be on the streets was drawing near and no one left. And they danced, and they played, and they ate, and they celebrated until the sun rose the next day. Andrew Solomon said, “there is a kind of music that is only possible when you’ve been silent for five years.” As a Jewish person, I doubt he would call it resurrection in the way I might, but for a fleeting moment, there it was–music, new life, new promise, new hope.
It’s the sense of relief at the end of a long process. There was a time that I was certain that ordination wasn’t going to be me, that I had missed my opportunity. My hope was renewed but the process was long and there were times I was frustrated or disappointed, but in the day of ordination there was new life and celebration.
It’s the relief of spring after a long winter. It’s the joy of being together after a long quarantine. It’s grandchildren’s laughter in the yard when it has only been on screens and phones. It’s good news of health after scary diagnosis and treatments. It’s remembering the ones you love with joy in the midst of the grief of their absence. It’s music after silence.
Here’s the thing about resurrection, it’s not a one time thing, it’s this moment and the next one. Resurrection is a process, it’s ongoing. It doesn’t “solve” everything for always, the new life that resurrection brings must be lived and that life, too, will be renewed in the light of resurrection. The disciples had to keep living in the light of the Resurrection, but the way they lived would never be the same. I live in the light of the resurrection and a mantle passed on to me and I live out of that moment knowing it has changed who I will become.
The Resurrection of Christ was a moment, revealing to us that the powers that try to keep us small, separated, afraid, alone, the powers that try to steal our abundant life, that try to steal our name of Beloved Child of God, that those powers DO NOT WIN. And resurrection is revealed in the world around us to remind us of abundant new life!
It brings hope. It brings life. It changes us and gives us courage to live in this new life until resurrection is revealed again.
But what if we saw resurrection everywhere? What if we noticed in our lives? What if we kept the language of it in our minds so that we see it when it is before us? What if we live in the expectation of resurrection, spoke the truth of resurrection, lived in the hope and reality of resurrection, participated in resurrection? What if we offered our stories to each other, to our neighbors, to our families to give them hope and courage? to help them see the new life that is already happening around them? What if it renewed the face of the earth in the hope of Resurrected Christ who is love, who calls us love, who brings new life?
Resurrection is Here! We are renewed, we are made new, we are part of the Spirit bringing new life, bringing a celebration of life and justice, the kin-dom growing here on earth, Christ is Risen!