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Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 24:1–12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. (NRSV)
I know I have mentioned this before, but one of the most profound descriptions of scripture I have ever encountered was uttered during a worship conference back in the 1990s. The worship leader held the Bible high before placing it on the lectern, saying “Our Book of Memories.” That description fits, doesn’t it? All throughout scripture we find the prompt to remember. Remember what it was like to be enslaved in Egypt. Remember when God set us free and nourished us with manna and water. Remember when God promised Abram and Sarai that the generations that would follow them would be more innumerable than the stars in the sky. Remember when Jesus broke the bread and shared the cup with his friends before his betrayal and arrest. Remember.
We find this instruction in today’s Easter text, as well. When the women arrive at the tomb, fully expecting to encounter the realm of death, they stumble into an unanticipated realm of life. And one of the messengers tells them, “Remember how Jesus told you . . .” before reminding them of Jesus’ words. And the power of that testimony resonates deeply within them and indeed, the women remember. And that remembering bequeaths to them courage, energy, and deeper faithfulness, so much so that they immediately go back to tell all the others. My guess is that they wanted to help the other disciples to remember what Jesus had promised, too.
I think one of the reasons so many of us make our way to worship on Easter Sunday is because we find it so hard to remember all of God’s promises. In a world dominated by war, bad news, cynicism, and greed, we can easily forget the way God is still at work. So Easter arrives and we find ourselves drawn to be together so we, like those messengers and like the women, might remember and ready ourselves for whatever new life is coming next.
Gracious God, we cannot find the words to say thank you with the depth of emotion that we feel. You continue to amaze us and throw us off, by your work of bringing life out of death, newness out of chaos, love out of despair. On this day, on every day, remind us that you are still at work and that Easter always rises. Help us to remember all of your promises. Amen.
Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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