I wonder how it was that day, when all the women went to the tomb. I wonder about the sorts of things they had to do first, breakfast, chores, hair, gathering the necessary herbs and spices, wrapping them gently in linen to carry with them there. Did they plan to eat on the way or later? Did they have more than one pair of sandals to choose from, one pair that was more comfortable?
When they arrived and the stone was rolled away, the tomb opened, the grave bare to the sun, what did they think? Did they sort of take a head count and try to figure out who had come early? Who had wanted to dress this precious body on her own?
I wonder what the angel looked like.
I like to think that the angel was a little girl. And she had a dirty dress and dirty feet and she clutched a basket with some hens eggs and some daffodils. And she said it all nonchalantly because she saw it happen, and she had seen so many unbelievable things, this was just one more.
There she was in the garden, picking flowers for her mother and the stone just sort of moved, and the man came out dressed in a way that was not dressed at all. And so then these women show up, these rather dependable people in their sensible shoes with their baskets and she just has to tell them what she’s seen, the stone moved, and he walked away. Walked. Away. He is not here, he just left.
Is it any more believable from the mouth of a girl child than from an angel?
My brother has done some very challenging sermons lately. I mentioned this all three scripture readings in one sermon thing, and he has taken the three and woven them effortlessly into a movable feast, a sermon he could preach three times, with variation, on a Sunday; in two different languages. And I was amazed.
Today he spoke about the tomb being empty. He spoke about how the things that we think hold us back, the things that are unforgivable, not figured out; they aren’t there anymore.
There is nothing in the tomb but white linen in a pile in the corner and sunlight and impermeable stone.
Because it is gone.
In a new agey, hopey changey way, the things that you were, the things that I was, they are gone. They were left in the depths of hell when Jesus battled there and rose victorious. They were left like tombstones on a battlefield, epitaphs to the people that we don’t have to be anymore.
I’ve written about being emptied out and filled again. As if all of my life has been distilled, as if I had it sucked out of me to be replaced with something other, something else, some painful infusion that brings me outside of myself.
We are the people in that tomb after Christ sort of stretched, shrugged off those burial clothes and walked out into the sun.
Do you remember the House Elves in the Harry Potter books? These creatures who were thin and pale, who lived in the shadows? They could be set free if their master gave them clothes, even a single sock would do.
We are the House Elves, we have bound ourselves to this tomb, sweeping up the sweet spices of burial, polishing the stone slab where a slain
lion man lay to atone for all of the things that the world would become and do.
Today we have been handed our sock.
Today we have been handed an old tee shirt, today we have been handed the freedom to walk out of that tomb, to realize that the sweeping is done, the things that have been made clean are… clean. There isn’t a reason to hang about here. No reason to shut ourselves in.
We were not made for the darkness of a tomb.
We were not made to endlessly clear away the garments our prophet wore. We have received, gratefully (most of the time), a small piece of the robe that a risen Christ wore, and those small snippets of cloth have set us free. We pin them about ourselves, we make them fit, we fashion them into a traveling cloak and we hit the road with this amazing story, this truth of who are are, of how we have been released, how we are set loose, UNLEASHED upon the world to wreak love and to make justice, to overthrow the tables in the temple, to upend the world as it is and to make it into a new creation.
This a tall order. This is sobering.
I remember many times, when I waiting tables, being told I had a huge party coming in, all of these people who would rely on me for sustenance, food and drink, smiles and warmth, accommodation. And the first step, dear servants, is to pick up the tray. The next is to believe that we can do this.
Don’t doubt your value, said Aslan. Don’t run from who you are.
Who you are is an empty tomb.
Who you are is the sock that has been handed to you, or maybe an apron that has our shield and that you will don to serve the hungry who EXIST and LIVE in this place.
Who you are is a ransom that has been paid.
It’s amazing isn’t it? The death of a lion on a stone table.
You are the mice that cut the ropes.
And now here we are, standing in the blinding light of an Easter sun and wondering what comes next.
And what will we do with all this light?