A blog written by the Rev Liz Blythe, Locum Minister
“When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint [Jesus in the tomb]. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.” (Mark 16.1-2)
Easter morning this year was a bit odd. It was the first time in my kids’ lives that we have not rustled them out of bed before the morning light and taken them to some dark corner of town to greet the rising sun with bleary eyes and hallelujahs. There was no small, giddy crowd. No light breakfast lovingly prepared by church members who were up equally early but hallelujahing from the church kitchen. Easter this year was quiet. Almost anticlimactic.
While I sat in my cold, bright kitchen, listening to my kids watching TV (bc, why not? we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be), I thought this was probably the truest Easter I’ve ever had. Usually I’m trying to get dressed and organise worship services and wrangle kids, but this year it was quiet and calm. I thought of the women walking the path to the tomb – the road quiet after the chaos of Friday and the whispers and gossip of Saturday. There was no crowd, just the three of them on the road, the crunch of gravel and sand under their sandals, eyes on their toes or the horizon or in quiet awe at the odd beauty that even a tragic morning can have.
On Sunday I felt deflated. After working hard throughout the week to support what was happening at church and trying to make my kids’ Easter seem as good as it possibly could, I sat in the almost quiet disappointed. It was that disappointment that really united me with the women. They had had hopes far beyond my own for the week. They had hoped that Jesus would, in fact, save himself. They had hoped that they’d wake after Friday’s fretful night of sleep to find it had all been a misunderstanding or a bad dream, or that there’d be a report that Jesus had gasped and caught his breath and would, really, be ok. Their hopes were high, which made the disappointment of the quiet walk Sunday morning all the more crushing.
And perhaps, it is precisely that disappointment that made what they found all the more shocking. An empty tomb? Was it grave robbers? or zealots looking for talismans? Their devastation was far beyond my sadness that we couldn’t be together. And yet, for none of us did it end in disappointment.
They were greeted by the glowing young man (Mark 16.5) who said, ‘what you are looking for is not here.’
Isn’t that the truth.
As a minister I spend a lot of energy trying to get Easter morning “right” not just for myself, mind you, but for everyone…and also for Jesus. But in the solitude of my chilly kitchen I could see that what I was looking for wasn’t there – it’s not in my attempts at perfect worship or a well-crafted sermon. It’s not in my daughter’s new shoes and pretty dress or in convincing my son to wear something I deem nice. What I was looking for wasn’t in the better than usual meal I was going to prepare for my family (which my children, I already knew, would refuse to eat). What I was looking for was Jesus right where I left him…and he wasn’t there. He was risen to new things…new life, and it felt, without all the things to do, like a new life for me, too.
We spent time on Sunday building Lego and went on a walk together and didn’t (most of us) dress up in anyway. And more than any Easter before, and probably any Easter that my children will ever have again, we rose out of our disappointment at not having all the fun to enjoy in community and felt the strange wonder of the day that the Jesus had risen. He has risen, indeed!