April 20, 2014: When It Feels Like the End

Posted on : Apr 17th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

A couple days ago I was looking for an Easter card to send to a longtime friend of mine.  His husband of 38 years died in January.  Every card I saw had the greeting, “Happy Easter!”

That isn’t an appropriate greeting for Don this year.  He’s not happy.  He’s in deep grief and feels like there is a huge hole in his heart.

What Don is feeling is probably more like what the women who went to the tomb and the other disciples felt on that first Easter morning.  To them, it felt like “the end.”  After sharing a love that was so authentic and real, so alive and vibrant, that just being around Jesus brought them into the presence of God, to have lost all that through the violent act of capital punishment to one who was innocent, was more than they could bear.

The men were terrified to be seen anywhere around Jesus, so they didn’t go to the tomb.  The women were bolder, so they went.  Mary came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus which was part of the burial tradition of her time.  She went to the tomb stricken by grief, yet willing to do the one last thing she could for the one she loved – prepare his body for burial.  To her, it must have felt like the end.

In the last weeks we’ve experienced these same feelings from those who have lost loved ones all across our world.  The families of those onboard Malaysian Flight 370; the families whose loved ones were buried alive in the mud slide in Oso, Washington; the families from our own city who lost their kids and loved ones in the bus accident on their way to a college orientation weekend, and the families who lost loved ones in the ferry boat accident in South Korea.  In each of these accidents, many felt like it was the end.  The end of their lives.  The end of their loved ones lives.  The end of life, at least as they knew it. This feeling of “the end” is a universal feeling.

And yet, we know it is not the end.  There comes a time when happy memories overcome memories of loss.  There comes a time when joy replaces grief.  There comes a time when we realize that God has not brought us to the end, but rather offers us a new beginning.

I believe the reason the Easter story still holds so much meaning today, is because it is real.  It is God’s way of telling us over and over again, that our lives never end.  We keep being raised up over and over again until that final experience when we are offered the greatest new beginning imaginable, eternal life in God’s loving-presence with the Risen Christ.

Easter Blessings to You and those you love,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

John 20: 1-18

The risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene.

Now, on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away 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 body of Jesus out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter, reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came, following after, and went into the tomb; Peter saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  The angels said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Jesus, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”  Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned and responded in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to God; but go to my friends and say to them, I am ascending to my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Christ”; and she told them that Jesus had said these things to her.

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