I feel a certain kinship with the women this day in Mark’s Gospel.
We are told that they have purchased spices and are coming to the tomb to do what they can for Jesus.
The body was buried in haste on Friday. It was not prepared as it should have been for burial.
Now these three days later, early in the morning they are going to the tomb to see just what can still be done.
They have not worked out all the details.
“Who will roll away the stone?” they ask.
They no doubt wonder just what they will they find as they make their way.
There is a sense of apprehension about this, combined with devotion and a desire to serve or to bring some closure.
Maybe they are just looking for a way to move on.
That’s where my kinship connects with them.
It has been a year since some of you have been back inside this building, at least in this fashion.
A year since we last gathered to worship together in person.
Like the women this morning, we have not worked out all the details.
“Who will usher?”
“How will we do the service?”
“Is it okay for us to sing? To greet one another?”
“Is this far enough away to sit? Have you gotten the vaccine yet?”
There is apprehension about all of this, combined with a sense of devotion. We want to do this for, well ourselves to be sure, but also for our family members, and for one another.
Maybe we feel compelled to do this, to come here, for Jesus.
We want to laud the Resurrection into the face of a year that has been punctuated by so much death, uncertainty and fear.
We are bringing our spices still, it seems, in the form of our own offerings, our own hopes, our own sense of devotion, and maybe even our desire to find a way to move on from all that this past year has been and done to us.
Like the women this day, we bring our spices looking for what we can do for Jesus, and wonder if it can ever be enough?
Maybe that is in the form of what we can do for the church, or for one another and that really is a beautiful thing.
I think in years past I have been guilty of not dwelling long enough on this beautiful part of the story.
Like so many others, I am usually in a rush to get to the resurrection.
I want to hear the assurance of the man in white robes when he speaks, to have him tell me, the women that “Jesus is not here, he is risen, just as he said.”
We are often all too ready to flee the scene, if not in “terror and amazement” as the women did, then at least out of our impatience to get to other things.
We hurry out of here to get to our Easter breakfast or to our family dinner.
We are impatient to move on from the time of worship to the other important stuff of this day.
This time as I read the resurrection account in Mark, I was struck by the beauty of what these women did.
They bear their spices for Jesus uncertain of how the day will go.
The simply show up, as they always seem to have shown up throughout the whole story now that I think about it.
They are there in the background of the other stories while the men take all the lines and get all the notice.
They are there, bringing what they have to offer to Jesus.
Mary and Martha with their hospitality and their attention, their questions and their presence. They sit at Jesus’ feet, attend to him with tears and kisses, bring what they can in the moment that is tender, powerful, or charged with meaning.
The women are there clustered at the foot of the cross, bringing what they can, their tears and mournful looks, their attention, when all the others have turned and walked away.
It is a beautiful thing, just showing up.
We come here today very much the same.
We are drawn here, or we feel compelled to try to partake of Easter vicariously through the live feed, because we have a sense that we want to do something for Jesus and for one another.
We want to do something to make this feel like an Easter.
We want to do something to mark this pivot point in time and in our lives.
Like the women who come to the tomb, we too might have some vague ideas of what the future looks like, or what we might find, or how things may play out for us in the hours and days ahead, but nothing really prepares us for the news of resurrection.
We come looking to do something for Jesus, and instead (as is so often the case,) we discover that it is really Jesus who is doing something for us.
Jesus is going ahead of us into the world.
Jesus is keeping his promises.
He is turning what should be a tragic and sorrowful moment into a moment of joy and wonder, something that catches us off guard and makes us re-evaluate everything!
That is what the resurrection does.
Resurrection opens up possibilities that are both unexpected and terrifying.
The women come looking to do something for Jesus, with their spices in hand to offer what little they can, but they leave the tomb in fear and amazement at what Jesus has done for them, made all their preparations a moot point.
There is no need for any of those offerings they were bringing. Jesus is already moving on back into life and doing things and now we have to go out and catch up!
The women come to the tomb together, spices in hand to see what they can do for Jesus, and they leave together as well — in terror and amazement, saying nothing to anyone because they are afraid.
They are afraid to see what may come next now that Jesus is moving ahead of them.
They are afraid of what the Risen Lord may do now. What he may call upon them to do. Right off the bat they have to get together again with Peter and the disciples. They are called to give their witness, tell the disciples and especially Peter where Jesus will meet them again.
They are probably afraid that what they have in their hands and at their disposal will prove to be just as inadequate and out of touch as those spices. Do they bring anything helpful, useful to Jesus now that he is loose in the world.
Perhaps they are afraid that their intentions are not nearly big enough, their faith not nearly strong enough, their actions in keeping with what Jesus has in mind for them now.
The beauty of it all is that in their coming and in their going, the women still do it together!
They may be afraid of what comes next, but they will face it as they have always have — together, following Jesus where he has said he would be, back in Galilee.
Back in the world that they came from.
Back in amongst the living.
Back in this newly reordered world after the events of these last three days, or last three years, or in our case, this past year.
I feel a certain kinship with the women this Easter, and I am touched by the beautiful thing this is that you all have simply shown up with whatever it is you have in your hands right now.
This is really all that God needs to proclaim resurrection to a waiting world. All of us simply showing up with whatever we have in our hands.
To such as these God announces that where we came looking for death and an ending, God put a beginning.
“He is risen, he is not here.”
It can be terrifying, but it does appear that this is how the Resurrected Lord comes to us. He takes us with whatever we come bringing in our hands and calls us to new life this day. So, “Go and tell,” but do it together.