NT: Luke 24.1-12
An Idle Tale
We live in anxious days. We’re anxious about our jobs, our community’s safety, and our family’s security. We’re worried about shrinking budgets and rising prices. We’re nervous about too many too many bills coming due on the same day. We’re deeply concerned about violence and terror across the globe. We live in anxious days.
Like the Israelites who wandered through the desert--unsure when their next meal would come, unsure when they would arrive at their final destination--we need peace of mind from our anxieties. Like the women who arrived at the tomb, expecting to prepare Jesus’ body for burial, only to find that he wasn’t there, we worry.
This morning, I have Good News for anyone who is anxious: The stone is gone! Jesus is risen!
The women who went to the tomb expected Jesus’ body to be there, expected to prepare it for burial, expected it to be difficult moving rolling away the stone, expected it to be another depressing day in what had been an unbearable week. Then they saw that the stone was gone. And their anxiety quickly turned. They became terrified. Where was he? Who had taken him? And why?
Jus then, they were told by people shining so brightly they could only be angels, that Jesus is risen! Risen? they must have thought. Is that what he was trying to tell us about being handed over to sinners before being risen on the third day? And…isn’t this the…third day? Their terror quickly turned to absolute joy, as they realized what was happening. They had no reason to worry. Jesus was alive! Death could not destroy him! Violence could not control him! A cross could not kill him! So they went to the disciples and shared the good news. Easter is a day for sharing good news, especially when you live in anxious days.
I’d like to share a story of good news with you on this Easter. It’s a story about Robyn and her daughter Millie. Robyn was my seminary classmate, and she now serves a church in Iowa. Last year, she and her husband welcomed a baby girl, Millie, into their family.
Robyn runs marathons, but that could not prepare her, she said, for 24 hours of labor. She endured, and Millie came into the world, an answer to her parent’s prayers. Quickly, though, their joy turned to anxiety. Doctors told them something was wrong. Perhaps an intestinal blockage. They would have to do surgery. “Nothing to worry about,” they said. “It’s minor.”
But little Millie, a mere three days old, endured a heart attack and a stroke during surgery. She suffered brain damage. And two months after Millie came into the world, she died.
So this Ash Wednesday, Robyn wrote a letter to Millie in hopes of making peace with these anxious days. She wrote, “Oh my darling girl, when you passed my world shattered. People told me that it wouldn’t always be this way, but when you’re entombed in such sadness, you can’t see anything beyond it. My head knew it wouldn’t always be this way, but this isn’t something you think through; it’s something you feel, you live, you breathe and fearfully walk one step at a time through it all.”
“But my love, as the nausea subsided, and my sadness remained, something else began to happen. Somehow light, and joy, and laughter began to shine through.”
She says she now knows that, “God sits with us in the ashes and sorrow. And through those painful moments, even if we ourselves can’t feel it, others remind us that morning will come, the light will break forth, again, and we will all vibrate with the singing of the whole world. On Easter Sunday we celebrate that Christ rose, that Christ is rising today in our very lives, and that Christ will rise again.”
Easter is about sharing good news, not in spite of the anxiety that surrounds us, but because of it. On Easter, Christians stand and proclaim in a world full of anxiety, death, and terror, that God is not subject to those limitations.
After the women told the other disciples the good news…“The stone is gone! Jesus is risen!”…they didn’t believe it. Their minds were too anxious to have any room for joy. But later, Peter went to the tomb himself, and he saw the burial cloths which has wrapped Jesus’ body mere days before, lying on the ground. For Peter, that was the moment when anxiety turned to joy, when he realized that light will break forth, that love does always win, and that Christ was indeed risen.
I told you Robyn’s story was a story of good news. At the end of her letter, Robyn tells Millie that she will have a baby sister later this year.
What can we do…what should we do…in the midst of these anxious days? We should keep our eyes on the Lord, we should savor every minute of this beautiful life, and we should do our very best to make this world a better place for the day when Jesus rises again. Amen.