It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened… (Luke 24:10-12)
‘How are you doing? How are you holding up? How is it going at home, or school, or work?’ “Well…”
It is Holy Week…and it is a strange one.
This week we follow Jesus past the palm branches, celebrating the return of the true king to arrest and execution. We are invited to see Jesus wash feet and confront darkness and death. At the Passover table, Jesus breaks bread and tells his followers to eat his body that is broken for them and later we see Jesus praying hard, and close friends sleeping, in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. One of his close followers betrays him and he is arrested, put through a sham trial, and executed by crucifixion. His followers scatter, hide, and some, like Cleopas, give up and start heading back to their homes away from Jerusalem.
Jesus' lifeless body was laid in a new tomb and sealed. Two days later, on the third day, women who had followed Jesus went to the tomb to wrap and treat the body. The door to the tomb was opened and the body was gone. They are told Jesus is risen and in shock but growing hope they go back and tell the disciples what they have witnessed. Peter runs, John perhaps chasing after him, to check the tomb and finds it just as the women described. Peter walks away wondering what has happened.
Now imagine Mary Magdalene or Peter hours later running into a relative or a neighbor from Galilee who is visiting Jerusalem for Passover:
‘How are you doing? Weren’t you following that Jesus of Nazareth character?’ “Well…”
As odd and strange as this Holy Week is for us, the one Peter, Mary and those first followers of Jesus experience was even more disorienting, stressful and hard to explain. Then they started running into the Resurrected Jesus. They told each other of encounters and their hopes grew. Those scared and scattered first followers came back together. They worshiped the Risen Lord seeing in him their salvation and a tangible proof of God’s ultimate victory. In time, as the Holy Spirit filled them, they had boldness and power to witness and work for the cause of Christ in the world.
The Resurrected Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, still shows up in this world. This Easter, hope is immune to any virus, to all sin and even death itself. Some have suggested we postpone Easter until the summer when we can celebrate it ‘properly’- but I believe Easter is right on time. We can miss the pageantry and look forward to proper parties but right now we need the power.
It has never been easier to invite a friend or family member to worship - just send them to our Facebook page or share our website link to them. We invite you to invest boldly in our continued ministry and mission when you click this link. I know this is an anxious time for many and I am so thankful for the ongoing and courageous generosity of the people of University. The season may be challenging but the mission remains: Building Bridges to Christ, Community and Compassion. Never has this calling been more important and never have I felt more certain of the power and presence of God in our midst.
He is Risen. We have seen him,