There is something incredible about waking up as the sun rises on Easter morning. If you know me (even a little bit), you know I am not a morning person… at all… There is, quite literally, nothing I like about the rising of the sun. I love the sunset. I love the darkness. My family and friends just roll their eyes, shake their heads, and smile when it starts to rain, and the sun goes behind the clouds, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief that it is damp and cold and dreary. If I’m honest, it’s not that hard for me to sit with the sadness of Holy Week, which is probably one of the reasons I do it so well and preach it so nauseatingly. Yet, as the sun just barely peeked over the horizon, this morning… this morning… this Easter morning… I instinctively, joyfully woke up. I arose, because Jesus arose! This is the best morning for waking up!
Matthew 28:6-7, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly…” (NIV).
Interestingly, this is not a morning for sitting with… anything…
When Mary and Mary arrived at the tomb, they probably needed a minute. I mean, how confusing must it have been? Even if they remembered Jesus’ words, none of it would have made sense. Grief is a horrible, wonderful, terrible process. What is essentially just hours after the brutal death of Jesus, which they observed, grief must still be clouding everything! They must be numb. Incredibly, they are going through all the right motions, adhering to all the right customs. The vast majority of us rally and do these things when tragedy strikes. But there is an order to things. A protocol. A modus operandi.
What do you do when the body is missing?
Oh, I just realized I could go more ways than I want to with that one… (note to self, follow up).
As I read the resurrection account again, this morning, I stopped to think about how very familiar it is. To be candid, we need some things in our life like this… some truths we can recall by rote, in the midst of our most heartrending moments, when we can’t make sense of anything. And we need the angel, too.
As a force of habit, I woke up with the words, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…” niggling at the back of my mind. I’m not sure my eyes had even opened yet. I surely hadn’t had my morning coffee (still haven’t as of this writing, so forgive me if it isn’t as coherent as I think it is). It was that foggy instant between being fully asleep and fully awake. Honestly, I might have still been dreaming. And even though it’s a passage I have memorized and quoted, I couldn’t for the life of me remember who spoke the words.
Ah… the angel.
Thank goodness the angel was there, speaking truth into the lives of two women who were probably more prepared for another day of death than one of joy. They had come to rub spices and oils on a rotting corpse. Thank goodness the angel was able to catch their attention long enough to jog their memories. And thank goodness the angel had a plan for what happens next!
“Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly…”
And you know… they do it!
The resurrection narrative hangs on these women with red, swollen eyes. I think they’re able to accomplish the telling, precisely because they know what it is to sit through the pain. They know we can’t have one without the other. They’ve lived it (and lived it well).
Colossians 3:1-3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (NIV).
And so their lives are inextricably tied to Jesus’ life, once again. To… his… life! Because he is alive!
May our lives be tied together, as well.
Psalm 118:24, “The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad” (NIV).