Rev. Heather Blais
This has been a strange and wondrous week. In every corner of creation, God’s people had to find new and adaptive ways to make this journey to the cross and the grave. While it might have been our first time making this journey in isolation, this was not the first time members of the Church have done so.
When Jesus was arrested, most of his disciples scattered. When he was crucified, only a few dared to stand at the foot of the cross. When he was buried, only the two women he loved most dared to keep vigil. Over two thousand years ago on Easter morning, followers of Jesus were holed up in their homes, afraid and unsure of what was to come.
Yet on Easter morning, two women went to keep vigil at Jesus’ grave:
Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary”.
To figure out who this “other Mary” is you have to find hints dropped by the gospel writer in previous chapters. Looking back a chapter, she is identified as the mother of James and Joseph (Mt. 27:56). If we look back several more chapters, we discover that two of Jesus’ biological brothers are named James and Joseph (Mt. 13:55).
This means the "other Mary" is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Scholars believe the reason she isn’t simply identified as Jesus’ mother is because her primary role on Easter morning is as a disciple.
When these two women go to the grave, they find soldiers standing guard by the tomb, still covered by a large stone. All of a sudden, the rocks shook again, just as they had after Jesus died. Except this time, the earthquake was accompanied by a brilliant light revealing an angel, who rolled back the rock and sat down. Fear seized the soldiers, who shook and fell to the ground as though they were dead.
The angel said to the women,
Don’t YOU be afraid;
I know you’ve come to see Jesus.
He is not here, because he has been raised.
Come, take a look and see where his body once rested.
Then go quickly and tell his followers.
It is just as Jesus told them after their last meal together;
Jesus has been raised from the dead
And will meet them in Galilee.
The women were overwhelmed with a mixture of fear, wonder, and joy. They went away immediately to tell the other disciples.
Along the way, they literally run into Jesus, who greets them. Upon seeing and hearing Jesus, the women fall to their knees and embrace his feet.
The longing to touch their loved one, their Savior and their God, is not lost on us this Easter. We know the ache these women have been feeling all too well. While our loved ones may be alive and well, holed up inside their homes--there are days when it is hard to imagine the next time we will reunite with those we are separated from during this pandemic. When will we next hug our children and grandchildren, embrace our parents, high five our students, or shake hands with our friends?
Yet Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus did not hug or hold their loved one, newly raised from the dead. Rather they clasped the feet of their Savior and their God in an act of worship.
A week ago, those same precious feet were anointed for burial in Bethany (Mt. 26:7).
Two days ago, those same feet lost all color, as life drained from Jesus' body (Mt. 27:51).
Those same precious feet were then wrapped in a clean linen and placed in a tomb (Mt. 27: 59-60).
Now those same feet stood before them.
The resurrected Christ said to the women,
There’s no need to feel afraid.
Go and tell my brothers and sisters,
those disciples whom I will always love
no matter how many times they forget what it means to walk in love
That I will see them in Galilee.
The translation from Greek to English that we heard in today’s gospel simply says, ‘go and tell my brothers’. Yet some scholars say a better translation of the Greek would be, ‘go and tell my brothers and sisters’. Judith Jones at Working Preacher explains, “Greek uses masculine plurals for any group that includes males, even if the group is comprised of nine women and one man. Though there are no women among the eleven, Matthew clearly includes women in the larger group of Jesus’ disciples.”
The resurrected Christ shifts language from “my disciples” to “my brothers and sisters” because Christ is trying to drive home a particular message.
Christ is saying to every disciple, from then until now:
You are not simply followers of a movement.
You are part of a body, a family of believers.
You are going to miss the mark sometimes.
You are going to forget what it means to walk in love.
Sometimes, you are going to act out of fear, anger, and scarcity.
We do not get to have all the answers.
What we have is Love.
A movement of Love that will transform this world and all of creation.
And it begins with each of you.
This Easter, as we greet the resurrected Christ, we find ourselves facing a decision. We can let the fear, uncertainty, and scarcity of our time dictate our thoughts, words, and deeds. Or we can join our siblings in Christ who have gone before us, paving a way of light as they walked in the darkness. Christ is inviting us to choose the latter. To walk in love, as Christ loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God.
Today, on this strangest and most wondrous of Easters, I choose Love.
What do you choose?
Let us join together and walk in Love. Christ will surely meet us in Galilee. Amen.
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