They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.
Mary Magdalene, first report from the empty tomb [John 20:2]
She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus…supposing him to be the gardener…
Mary, weeping outside the tomb [John 20:14-15]
Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
On the road to Emmaus, the first Easter evening [Luke 24:16]
This life is so new, so fresh, so unexpected that no one sees it for what it is: world changing, life transforming resurrection. People just like you and me squint at the new life through old lenses, lenses clouded by long-held assumptions and colored by fear, yet rendered obsolete the moment Jesus shed the shroud and left the tomb.New life rises from a stone-closed tomb and it goes unnoticed, unrecognized, unappreciated. The first visitors to the empty tomb assume that the body has been moved or stolen. One of them thinks the just-risen Jesus is the gardener. Others ask the traveling companion who comes up alongside them if he’s the only one who doesn’t know what awful things happened to Jesus in Jerusalem…and it turns out the companion is, in fact, Jesus.
We are Easter people. We live on the far side of the resurrection of Christ. We proclaim for seven weeks: Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Yet we so often walk through our days as if Jesus were still lingering in the tomb. Resurrection life is afoot in the world and, squinting through old lenses, we so often miss it.
Thankfully, this Risen One is persistent. He keeps coming up alongside us to give us new lenses to see the new life he offers. A sip of wine and a bit of bread…water and Word washing over us…forgiveness offered or received…a friend living in recovery day by day…a simple sunrise or the complexity of a relationship restored…these and so much more are signs of resurrection and new life afoot in the world, so easy to overlook or mistake for something else. In, with, and under the mundane matters of our drudging days the Risen One comes near again and again to speak our name, open our eyes, stir our hearts, take our hands, and lead us out of dark tombs into resurrection light.
This Eastertide, may God’s Spirit open our eyes wide with wonder to see new life coming near, open our hearts to receive it with hope and joy, and open our hands to share it with all we meet along the way.
Christ, our companion, hope for the journey,
Bread of compassion, open our eyes.
Grant us your vision, set all hearts burning
That all creation with you may arise.
[Susan Palo Cherwien, “Day of Arising,” ELW 374]
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!