This Easter has been glorious and also a bit melancholy. Easter fell on April 16th-the day when tragedy struck the campus of Virginia Tech. I am a Hokie and proudly so. My parents met at Virginia Tech and got married when Dad had one more year to finish. It’s been ten years since the shooting and it’s always a hard day.
This Easter, this April 16th, I was leading worship at Trinity United Methodist church for our annual community sunrise service. Here is my reflection for the service. I thought I would share it. It has more of my thoughts than anything else I could write at this point.
Sunrise Service Reflection
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In six days all of creation came into being and on the seventh day God rested. In the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus was in the beginning with God. And now, we are at the beginning yet another time. The life and ministry of Jesus are done. God has raised Jesus from the dead. We are back at the beginning.
Mary didn’t know any of this when she walked to the tomb that Sunday morning. It was dark, the stone was moved, and she runs for the disciples. The disciples go running to the tomb full of questions. Was it thieves? They look inside and all they find are the empty linen wrappings left behind. He isn’t here. John tells us the beloved disciple believes-what he believes we aren’t entirely sure. But something is up.
The disciples leave poor Mary behind and she takes a look inside the tomb. She sees two angels. Why are you weeping, they ask. They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him. She turns around and sees a man-she thinks it’s the gardener. She tells him the same thing she told the angels. Mary! It’s him. Tell the disciples that I am going back to the Father. She is then charged with the task of telling them the news. I have seen the Lord!
Jesus isn’t just a teacher, a healer, or a political figure at this point. He’s not just someone who died for his beliefs. He’s been resurrected from the dead. He’s alive even though the authorities made sure he was good and dead. He’s still speaking to his followers even though the authorities wanted to stop people from following him. The resurrection changes everything. We’re back at the beginning.
Our faith begins at the tomb. Without the tomb we wouldn’t be here. If Jesus simply died like a criminal on the cross, we wouldn’t have the faith we have today. We would simply celebrate a man who died for what he believed and that would be it. Instead, the empty tomb brings new life. The resurrection brings us hope that God is always creating new things, even things from violence and cruelty. The tomb tells us that God gives life and life abundant. It tells us that God hasn’t given up on us or on our broken world.
When Mary says, I have seen the Lord!-it changes everything. Jesus is alive and the work isn’t done yet. His mission is handed to us. We are given responsibility to participate in God’s redemption of creation. We are the ones charged with the task of carrying God’s light into the world-a light that the darkness will never overcome-a light that shines in the darkness.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth-God hasn’t stopped creating. Evil has entered our world, but even on Good Friday-when the Son of God is hanging from the cross-evil didn’t have the last say. On Easter morning evil is defeated once and for all. God’s light-which has been shining from the beginning-shines on yet again. Jesus is alive and we get to tell everyone-I have seen the Lord.