Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
+ Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
The sun rose clear and bright that Sunday morn
as Mary and the other Mary went
with voices hushed and faces looking worn
by memories of their Teacher’s fierce torment.
To them, it must have seemed a cruel joke
to feel the touch of springtime’s gentle breeze
while hastening to his tomb whose grey stone spoke
a haunting truth that brought them to their knees:
The Savior of the World was truly gone.
His body lay in death, his grave was sealed,
the hope they’d staked their very lives upon
crushed by the weight of human sin revealed.
Arriving at the tomb, they saw the guard
placed there to keep the high priest’s mind at rest.
On Friday he’d been loath to disregard
the brazen boast that Jesus had expressed:
“Tear down this temple, knock it to the ground!
In three short days I’ll raise it up once more!”
To leave that claim unchallenged would compound
the blasphemy the crowds had fallen for.
The world was still when Mary reached the grave.
The soldiers kept their watch without a word.
Then, suddenly, the ground began to cave,
the very soil before them swelled and stirred.
At once, those guarding Jesus shook in fear,
for trembling ground was nothing when compared
with dazzling light from heaven, sharp and clear,
and God’s own brilliant glory brightly bared!
The stone that sealed the entrance rolled aside,
and on it sat a figure robed in white:
It was an angel of the Lord, who cried:
“Fear not; I bring a word of great delight!
You’re seeking Jesus, who was crucified!
He isn’t here! He’s risen from the dead!
Come closer to the tomb and look inside!
Remember what your Lord and Teacher said!
‘Jerusalem is where the Son of Man
must go to face rejection, scorn, and shame.
They’ll lift me up, but I will thwart their plan
by rising up to glorify God’s name!’
Now go and tell your brothers what you’ve heard.
The tomb stands empty! Jesus is alive!
To all of his disciples he sends word:
I’ll wait in Galilee ‘til you arrive!”
The women turned and went at his command
as fear and awe filled each one’s brimming heart,
when Jesus stood before them, raised his hand,
and bade that weekend’s sorrow now depart!
They fell down at his feet and clutched him tight,
their voices raised in songs of praise and prayer.
He urged them, “Tell my brothers all is right!
Go on to Galilee! I’ll meet you there!”
And so they did! They sprinted to proclaim
the news that Christ had conquered death and hell!
Today, my friends, as those who bear his name,
we celebrate that gospel truth as well.
We come, with all our scars and doubts and fears,
our pain and grief, our struggles and our strife.
We come, as Mary did, and through our tears
see him who grants us all abundant life!
He meets us in the word of love and grace,
in gifts of bread and wine we bless and share,
in brother’s, sister’s, friend’s, and neighbor’s face.
Wherever we might gather, he is there.
Because the Lord has risen, we have hope.
We need not face the trials that come alone,
for Christ our brother knows the depth and scope
of every wound and bears them as his own.
But more than that, the empty tomb reveals
that sorrow does not have the final word!
In Jesus’ resurrection, love that heals
earth’s deepest pain will surely be conferred!
Rejoice and sing! Christ Jesus lives today,
and in him we have life that never ends!
May we, with Christians everywhere, display
the love for all our gracious God extends.
This Easter, let us bless our God for love
that crosses every boundary, even death,
so we might know the presence from above
that dwells within us, closer than our breath.
Christ is risen! Thanks be to God!