The Empty Tomb

The Empty Tomb

Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  This is a refrain that Christians have shared on Easter Day for centuries.  For the early birds at the Easter Sunrise Service, we’ll share in this refrain – in person! – as dawn breaks on this new Easter morn.  For those of us joining together for the online service at 9:00, we will also be sharing in this refrain.  Be ready to sing it, to shout it, to dance it wherever and however you are!  When I say, “Christ is risen,” you’ll respond, “Christ is risen indeed!”  And then together we’ll say “Alleluia!”  I hope we’ll say it with heart and soul and strength and courage and with all our might.  Because despite anything and everything that has come before, despite hardship and struggle, despite pain and suffering, despite plagues and pandemics, despite any and all circumstances that have felt as if they were too much to bear, morning comes…day breaks…Easter arrives.  And we are reminded, once again, that God’s goodness, God’s love, God’s life-giving, life-restoring, life-saving force has been at work, is at work and will continue to be at work until God’s kingdom comes in its fullness.  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

I hope you’ll join us for the Easter Sunrise Service and/or online worship at 9:00 as we offer our praise and thanks to God, as we connect with God’s love, community and call and as we explore our faith together.  Sign in to YouTube while watching the 9:00 service and join in the Live Chat with the gathered community at PBUMC.  You are also invited to join the Wednesday Bible Study that reviews the scripture and sermon topic from the previous Sunday and reflects on the questions that are listed below.  If you’re interested in joining us from 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, please notify the church office or Pastor Lori and we’ll send you the Zoom link.  Drop-ins are welcome!  Looking forward to being together on Sunday and celebrating a glorious Easter!

Pastor Lori

John 20:1-18 (NRSV)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Questions to consider:

  1. Are there “tombs” in your life that hold your attention?  Tombs to which you look back again and again?
  2. Has your grief connected differently this year with the grief of Mary?  The grief of the disciples?
  3. What piece of Easter hope or promise or Good News do you especially hold onto this year?
  4. As people of faith, how might we respond to and “practice” resurrection this Eastertide?  For a little extra pondering on “practicing resurrection,” see Wendell Berry’s poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” here: