We don't know where they've put him!
Easter Sunday – Year C
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Let us pray: God of joy and delight, open our hearts to receive the Good News of this day with wonder and trust, courage and commitment, hope and faith. May my words be full of the Good News that is yours to tell this Easter day! Amen.
Imagine, if you can, being with Mary Magdalene as she makes that sad, sorrowful walk to the tomb. She has been witness to all that has happened in the tumult of the previous days. She wasn't in the crowd yelling for his life, but there was nothing that her small voice could do to stop the fickle crowd from yelling it's murderous wishes. There was nothing she could do to convince the religious authorities – those hypocritical and hurtful leaders, that her friend Jesus was not a threat but a blessing. How could she find a soapbox to tell of the way that her relationship with God had been so deepened by the things she had learned and witnessed with Jesus? The pain of the past days was just too hard to bear. She and the other disciples had gathered together – as grieving people always do – taking comfort in the mere presence of being together. No one had much to say – the terror, the shock, the unbelievable trajectory in the way the events had unfolded had more or less left them speechless.
And then there was Peter, still feeling the pain deep in his heart, about how he had done exactly what he said he wouldn't do and deny that he had ever known Jesus. He sat off to one side all day, shaking his head or holding it in his hands – so disappointed in himself, but also wondering what might have happened if he had told those who asked that he indeed he did know Jesus and what were they going to do about it. Peter knew himself well enough to know that he would never do anything in half measure. If he was going to deny Jesus – he would do the full three times – just as Jesus had predicted, but if he had not, he knew that he would have been a feisty combatant, in whatever kind of verbal or physical conflict might have resulted. But no, he – fearless, feisty, impetuous Peter - had feared for something and that made him deny the loyalty that was otherwise so important to him.
They were a grieving, deeply sorrowful, shocked and speechless group of friends. A couple of them had gone to be with Jesus' mother Mary, as Jesus had asked with some of his final words. They weren't far off – a similar group of shoulders hunched, mere whispers of their former selves people - seemingly made smaller by all that had happened in the spectacle of the trial and execution.
And then Mary decided to make her way to the grave – the sun had not even come up yet, but she just had to go to the tomb – the cave that had been offered by Joseph of Arimathea – at least there was one respectable person in that group of religious hypocrites.
It was like the final disgrace when she discovered that the tombstone had been rolled away. The cave was empty. Don't tell me they've gone even further than we could imagine, was the thought that passed through her minds. Death wasn't good enough for them. Now they've gone and done something to his body. They've taken him away and I don't know where they've put him, she cried in anguish, fear, alarm, and disgust, as she went running back to the huddled friends.
Well, we know it wasn't 'they' that took him. No, 'they' did not have the final word. It was no disgrace, it was triumph that took him. God's way prevailed.
And yet, the question raised by Mary's sad wonder is still a good one. Where is he? It's a question that lingers through the ages – stopping right here at our feet and hands. And of course that is the answer – our feet and hands. We have a hymn we sing that proclaims that we are the hands and feet of Christ – serving by grace each others need. Resurrection is about life. It's about living. It's about living the way God invites us to live. We are the body of Christ – the living incarnation of Jesus in the world. That's where he is. That's the blessing of resurrection. That's the good news of the Easter Story. That's the story that was little by little revealed to that sad, hunched over shoulders, group of people on that Easter day – and that's our story. It's not a story of long ago, it's a story of here and now. It stops here for a moment, and then when this Easter worship is finished it will walk right out of here and into the future – propelled by us – by our hands and feet – the hands of feet of Christ. Isn't that what was promised in our baptism, didn't we say just that a while ago when we celebrated with Tekerra her being part of this body of God's people – the body of Christ in the world. Where have they put him? In you, in me. That's the Christ. That's the resurrection. Alleluia. He is risen. Alleluia. Amen.