Thursday, April 28, 2011

Women Find the Empty Tomb (2)

The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord's angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel looked as bright as lightening, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead. The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where the body was lying. Matthew 28;1-6 CEV

Finding Jesus' burial place with no body present would not have been a good thing. Those crucified were cursed, according to Deuteronomy 21:23. The humiliation was further "perfected" by Roman armies when the executed were refused burial. To be denied any possibility of a burial would have been the final insult. Finding the tomb empty would have been worst of all possibilities.

Into this terror and trauma, the messenger of God speaks the words of faith, of trust. They are echoed to all generations of the faithful before and since: "Don't be afraid." The women are reassured that the burial was completed; Jesus' absence only means that he is alive now and forever.

Of all the temptations to lure us away from God's love and light, the queen bee may be disappointment, because it flies in the face of all our programs for managing our own happiness. It's the lie that God is responsible for making me happy, mostly with lots of goodies. In the American theology of prosperity, health, wealth and success all are the certain reflections of God's blessing.

One of the fruits of Christian spiritual practice is to be assured of God's love in Jesus, a love from which no one and no situation can unhinge us. Which means we have a choice to trust God- or not. In the words of Andrew Young, whose daughter once announced she was leaving home to serve the Peace Corps in Idi Amin's Uganda. "We had no choice but to trust God or go crazy!" (Young's memoir is A Way Out of No Way)

The only real choice for disciples is for a regular and habitual acclimatization to God's living and loving presence, so that, in all circumstances, we know that God's love in Jesus Christ is for us, now and forever.

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