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On a Morning Just Like This . . .

April 03, 1999|the Rev. Edward C. Martin

I'm always struck, every Easter, as we read the familiar story, by the role of the women. In Jesus' day, women were third-class citizens at best. But Jesus didn't keep score the way other folks did.

There were women who were followers, women who served as disciples, women who seemed to understand the message when the men could not or would not.

Third-class citizens, at best, but . . .

On a morning just like this,

the women came.

They came with eyes

red and burning

from too many tears,

too much pain,

too little hope.

While the men cowered

in hideaway rooms,

the women,

in spite of their own grief and fear,

came.

Their hope,

their dreams,

had been cruelly slashed,

ripped apart with the lash,

punctured with the thorns,

nailed to the cross,

dead and buried.

They had loved

just as much,

perhaps more,

they had walked

and talked with him

and his willingness

to treat them

as Children of God

must have made him

even more special to them.

They were the oppressed,

along with the sinners

he seemed to love.

But now their hopes had died with him.

But, they came--anyway.

The men might win the races.

The men might push forward,

to stand before the master

in the front rank.

But the women came--

they endured.

Jesus had given them hope,

a faint hope that they could do more,

be more,

be real people,

not just beasts of birth and burden.

To them fell the job of

holding it all together

and so . . .

they were used to pain,

they knew the heartache

of burials come too soon,

of life denied,

of hope flayed

on the altar of tradition

and hate and fear.

The return to reality must have

felt like the knell of eternal doom.

Their hopes must have seemed

so stupid,

so useless,

so doomed.

And so . . .

they didn't notice

the dull ache in their legs from

too little rest and

too much labor.

Their hearts were numb and their

spirits broken.

But, they came anyway,

on a morning just like this.

In spite of all the crushing

judgment of their world,

they held on

to the God-given values of honor,

duty

friendship.

And so . . .

they came on a morning just like this.

They came to anoint,

to care for the body of their friend.

They couldn't make grand speeches,

yell at the Sanhedrin,

curse at the Sadducees,

stick a dagger into a Roman.

There was so much they

couldn't do.

But they could deal with reality

and accept and survive.

There was much they couldn't do . . .

but, they could come,

in the cool and damp

of a fragrant spring morning,

to the tomb,

to anoint

the body of their friend,

on a morning just like this.

They could lay aside their fear,

forget the demands of pride and place--

for they had so little.

They were numb, but they came

in the cool of a spring morning,

flowers and fresh breezes,

all around them--unnoticed.

For their hearts were numb.

They knew they might

have to wait.

They could not roll away the stone.

They would have to have help for that.

They would do their duty,

serve as they could serve and,

if it all came out all right,

they would not be too late

to do their chores

at home.

They had much to do . . .

but still they came.

As early as they could,

in the soft light of dawn.

It was not a job

for the heat of the day.

And they had much else to do,

but still they came.

It would have been cool

and perhaps damp

in the very early morning.

The fog hung in the low spots

so they didn't see,

didn't see until they were there,

right there at the tomb.

In the midst of death

all around them,

they saw the stone.

A grave was an unclean place,

not a place a person wanted to be,

it was unclean

and ritual cleansing

would be necessary

before they could

resume human contact.

But they gained

a moment of time

when they saw . . .

saw the stone

rolled away,

exposing the deep

darkness within.

Their feet forgot to move,

the ache of soul-deep sorrow

stopped them in their tracks.

They looked at the stone,

at the hideous darkness

of the open tomb.

An open tomb,

an unclean body

waiting within,

a body that had been there

since Friday.

But, still,

he was their friend,

their Rabbi,

their Lord.

And, at least

the stone was rolled away.

It should have been a wonder,

a mystery,

an anxiety,

but they were beyond

all that.

It simply was.

The stone was

rolled away.

Thank God for small blessings,

praise be to God.

They remembered to

thank God

for this blessing,

for the little things

that made life go a little better.

Even though this blessing

hastened a moment they dreaded.

With a sigh of hearts

breaking anew

and of soul deep weariness,

they trudged up,

up the little slope,

up to the darkness that awaited,

up to the job they hated to do.

And then,

a great hinge swung,

and reality was forever altered because the women took . . .

a step within,

and their senses swam,

their eyes were blasted with wonder,

their ears rang,

their minds reeled--

they felt the words,

eternal words,

"not here--raised--gone before."

We cannot capture that moment

in mere words.

We speak of angels,

of shining young men.

We use hopelessly

mundane and limited words

to try to describe

what is indescribable.

What eyes

could not comprehend,

what ears could not hear,

they saw in their souls

and heard in their hearts,

and a wild surge lifted them

leaping, singing

with incredible joy.

And they knew,

for they were washed,

washed in a

moment of eternity.

How to describe that

moment of God-time?

They had stumbled into glory,

walked into God-space,

into heaven touching Earth,

into a wonder,

the wonder.

The wonder of forever.

On a morning,

a morning just like this.

And thus it was then

and thus it still is.

For God, our God,

is Lord of life and death.

For God,

our God,

is free.

Free before to create,

free then to create,

free now to create,

forever free.

We touch reality

with only a tiny fraction

of our senses.

We know so little.

But, we know this,

this we know . . .

the hand that

created life in the first place

reached out and created life

in the second place.

New life,

eternal life,

on a morning,

a morning just like this.

Amen.

*

The Rev. Martin will lead Easter services at 6:30, 8:30 and 10:15 a.m. at Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church, 26001 Muirlands Blvd., Mission Viejo.

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