by Rev. Doug Gray
Most of us would rather have beginnings than endings, rather have the dawn than the sunset, rather have the hellos than the good-byes. I think that’s pretty natural. Certainly, we would prefer birth to death.
I’m sure the women headed to Jesus’ tomb that first Easter morning were not filled with joy, but grief. They knew Jesus was dead and had seen the tomb closed near sunset on Friday. There’s something very final about burying someone. I remember standing at the grave of my grandfather as a young man. When the words were said, the tears shed, and the hugs given, we turned from the grave to what was next. A little more time together as an extended family and then… We found ourselves still drawn back to that grave, still drawn back to the memories, still drawn back as we tried to understand what my grandfather’s death meant. Is that what the women were thinking as they headed to the garden, still drawn back to where Jesus’ body still lay, still needing the spices so that others who were drawn back could sit with him a little more. We would much rather say hello than good-bye, but sometimes we don’t know how to say good-bye.
But the angel says, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” What kind of question is that? Where else would Jesus be but in the tomb? But the door of the tomb is open. “He is not here…he has risen!” And their good-bye becomes hello, and like us, they are confused, perhaps even fearful. But where the closed door of the tomb drew them back, the open door of the tomb draws them forward, to another place and another time, the next chance to be with Jesus.
We are used to thinking of death as an ending, and we even say things like, “Nothing is sure, except death and taxes.” And I suppose death is a kind of ending. The forces of evil thought they were getting an ending: Jesus was tried and convicted and executed, though He was innocent. Jesus had other choices, but He walked that sorrowful and painful road for love—of His heavenly Father to be sure, but also for love of us. Yet, the forces of evil did not know that when someone willingly gives up their life for another, then death is not an ending, but a beginning.
Today, as we watch the sun rise, we are reminded of the beginning of Easter, the beginning of the real mission of Jesus Christ, the beginning of a new life for all who are willing to let God make in them a new beginning. So Jesus left the door open, the door to the tomb, the door to our future, the door left open to a life lived for love. When we willingly sacrifice our lives for another, then we too are drawn forward into new life. Today is a new beginning! How will we love today? The door is wide open because…He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!