Sunday 27 March 2016

Bible Book:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” (v.5)

Luke 24:1-12 Sunday 27 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 118


The first Easter Day did not dawn in a blaze of joy and glory.Instead it began in the uncertain half-light with confusion,disorientation and fear. The women are described as "perplexed" (v.4) and "terrified" (v. 5). Although they went and told the maledisciples what had happened, there is no indication that they wereconvinced of Jesus' resurrection and certainly none that theyrejoiced. The testimony of women was not valid in the first-centuryJewish world and the male disciples dismissed the story of thesewomen as hysteria or delirium (verse 11). All in all, the firstEaster Sunday was messy and inconclusive.

The angels said to the women: "Why do you look for the livingamong the dead?" (v. 5). They were still operating within anobsolete paradigm in which the dead cannot live again, and withinthis way of thinking they could not possibly understand orrecognise the truth of the Resurrection. They needed to emerge fromthe tomb into a new way of thinking that recognises God's absolutepower even over death.

Nancy Claire Pittman, Assistant Professor of the Practice ofMinistry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Oklahoma writes: "Wetoo want to tend the corpses of long dead ideas and ideals. Wecling to former visions of ourselves and our churches as if theymight come back to life as long as we hold on to them … We chooseto stay with what we know in our hearts to be dead, because it issafe, malleable, and so susceptible to burnishing through privatememory. The words of the unworldly messengers are a challenge tostop hanging on to the dead and to move into new life. They arereminders that the Holy One dwells wherever new life burstsforth."

It is tempting to burst jubilantly into Easter celebrations witheasy alleluias and daffodils, but the Resurrection is really aboutdying to our dead, limited, but safe ways of being, and allowingGod to raise us to a larger way of life, open to the possibility ofnew life we could never have imagined.

Andrew Pratt's hymn "The sharpened chill, the flower-strewntomb" expresses it beautifully.

To Ponder

  • Are you stuck in the tomb of any 'dead' ways of seeing or doingthings? What is God wanting to raise to new life within you?
  • How might marking Easter more reflectively help you to do thedifficult work of engaging in your own process of death andresurrection?
  • Is your church's Easter worship more feel-good or challenging?How appropriate is it for you?
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