Lectionary Readings for Easter Sunday, March 31. Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 65:17-25, Ps 118:1-2, 14-24. 1 Cor. 15:19-26, John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12
Lots of scripture for this week! I'm not sure why there are options listed, except maybe to give a preacher more choice-especially when this is a story the church pays attention to every year.
It's interesting to compare the gospel accounts. There are remarkable similarities. First, it is women in Luke, and a woman in John, who discover the empty tomb.When they report, they are not believed and the male disciples run to check it for themselves. (The running is noteworthy-adults didn't run-so this detail is written to show how flustered, excited, and shocked they are!) I don't blame the men for not believing the women-but the gender thing is beside the point. This news is so unbelievable it wouldn't have mattered who delivered it! Luke 24:11 says the women's words "seemed to them like nonsense". The women are not described as running, but their inability to speak clearly shows how flustered they were! News like this, unexpected and amazing, simply has to be seen in person. None of the disciples were immediately able to make sense of it. Well, maybe not none. In John, Mary stays at the tomb after everyone else has left and actually gets to speak with Jesus. She is the first to know the truth. She believes and is able to bring the disciples further news.This second delivery of amazing news seems to be accepted by everyone.
It strikes me, in preparing an Easter message, that we've had 6 Lenten themed Sundays, and there is only one Easter! Growing up in the Mennonite church, I don't remember us paying much, if any, attention to Lent. I remember, as a child, thinking it was a Catholic church observance, one of the extra things that we didn't do. We saw ourselves as a people of the resurrection, living in the good news of Jesus, not staying in the place of guilt and unworthiness. This emphasis sort of pushed Lent themes to the side, perhaps a little too much and now the pendulum has swung back a little. I like the observance of Lent, it is a season of needed introspection, but in the Easter message I want to emphasize the resurrection as the core of our story that defines us throughout the year. We are a resurrection people, full of good news, joy, and hope that must be shared in our lives.
The story told in Acts, where Peter is bringing the good news to the Gentiles, is a great "living the resurrection" story. It is about the good news of peace through Jesus, unity of peoples, healing, forgiveness of sin, and the conquering of death. That's news to live by all year around!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!