Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Unbelievable

GospelLuke 24:1-12 

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.
  When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.
  Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened


We can imagine the two men must have had a incredulous tone to their question. Surprised that the women had the wrong end of the stick.

The culture of the time completely accepted the idea that a person's 'spirit' could be carried on - by their teaching; their example. The women would believe this is what Jesus had meant - that he would be born again in the fellowship of those who had listened to his voice? That the responsbility of his mission had now passed to them, as scary as that may have seemed.

Because that would make sense - but since when had anything Jesus done or said, made sense?

But then, it is easy for us Christians to be critical; sometimes a little 'Elder Son' critical of other people's faith.  After all, we mumble; they were there with him; they saw; they heard. If it happened again  - I would believe, I would know.  

I wouldn't. 

Luke, more than any Gospel writer, plays on the fear, confusion, disbelief, amazement and mystery of what has happened. An event beyond their imagining - it would be just as unimaginable even now.

The women clearly expect nothing more than the opportunity to pay their respects to a beloved friend. They are doing their best with what they have to offer - and they are not consoled. The message adds to their confusion; their grief and even their reputation. 

Yet, the best that we can offer is really all we can do - whether in faith, action, prayer or ministry. We start off in the mundane of life and find ourselves in grace-ful mystery. The Easter message is all about transformation - we start off doing what we want to do, then, if we are prepared to listen - we are filled with the grace to do what God wants us to do. Even without authority or position, even if we remain dazed and confused, we are sent to send people searching for Jesus.

Like the women, I start off having very little problem believing in Jesus; the man; the son; the friend; the teacher. I can feel the truth of him. I can see the challenge and promise of his teaching. I have tried to do the same. 

But then it changes; when I am asked to remember something I thought I had heard and realise that there is a deeper message; when I am not the penitent but the pharissee; when I would be the one standing with the stone in my hand. Believing in the Son of Man is a life of questions not answers. 

The Son of God?

When I was younger I shared the certainty of Paul and his experience of the Risen Christ - I wouldn't dare now.  Listening to Paul, I am filled with a desire to put myself in his place; the evocative romance of his story beckons me.

The Risen Christ is beyond me; no matter what I have seen or heard or read; his reality is my faith; my hopeful Mystery; my consolation. 

The promise of this Easter morning,  is to believe, like Mary,  that 'Nothing is impossible to God'. 

He is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia


wordinthehand2013



3 comments:

Philomena Ewing said...

Beautiful. May Easter Blessings of Love,Joy,Peace and Hope fill you today and always!! :-))

claire said...

It may sound strange, Word, but I believe that Christ is risen thanks to all those who have believed from then until now and passed on their faith to me.
It must have been such an incredible event to give courage to so many to brave the laws of their own society and risk their lives.
The coming of His spirit is still carrying us. Wow.
Happy Easter to you and yours! xoxo

Gelli Ma said...

Dear Phil and Claire - how wonderful to be a part of that family - the legacy that we can trace back to those named and unnamed women gives us all courage to call him Brother and Lord. May we continue to risk whatever is needed to carry on the message. Happy Easter xxx