This year the congregation I serve started our Easter Sunday worship in the narthex. We heard the story of the women going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body only to find the tomb was empty. We rolled away the stone and entered the empty sanctuary together singing “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!” Experiencing in some small way what it might have been like for the women so long ago. Or at least that is my hope as I am writing this well before Easter Sunday.
We have become so familiar with this story that I think sometimes the awe and mystery just isn’t there anymore. We know before we arrive at worship that the tomb is empty. No surprises, no awe, no excitement. We expect the tomb to be empty.
Expectations. Maybe that is what the awe and mystery of Easter is all about. The women went to the tomb expecting death. They were prepared for that. They had prepared the necessary spices ahead of time and were on their way to perform the proper ritual of burial. But they didn’t find what they were expecting. The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. They had forgotten (or didn’t believe) that Jesus had told them he would rise on the third day. They needed reminding of this promise.
What are our expectations of Easter - and the whole Eastertide for that matter? Do we expect our lives to be any different? Has the story become so familiar that we don’t have expectations anymore?
May this Easter and the days following not be the same as every other year. May it be the year you experience the awe and mystery of the empty tome and the Risen Christ. May your expectations be turned from death to life.
Rev. RaeAnn Beebe
Image found at: http://www.ely.anglican.org/