Daily Devotions are published Tuesday-Saturday during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Matthew 28:1-17 (NRSV)
…as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary [mother of James and John] went to see the tomb. And suddenly … an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone…. the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid… you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised…. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him….” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. [The priests and elders] devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
When I first became fascinated with history, I would wonder what living through the amazing historic changes I read about would have been like. How thrilling it must have been to be part of those great turning points in human history. Then the Soviet Union collapsed. I found myself trying to figure out what it all meant and playing a bit part in managing the changes. It was a bit less glamorous and glorious than I expected. Now I sit confined to my room during what may become the greatest pandemic in history. It doesn’t seem glamorous; it seems terrifying.
Surely however, one event could have been nothing but inspirational. What would it have been like to be a witness to the resurrection? Matthew describes what I would have seen. I would have seen two women, the most faithful of Christ’s disciples (despite the fact that they were marginalized by their society), be the first to behold his risen body. (Equal Pay Day was March 31. That’s how far into 2020 women must work to earn what men earned in 2019.) I would have seen the use of bribery by those in power to help suppress the facts that would threaten that power. That doesn’t seem unfamiliar. I would have seen the disciples ecstatic and yet doubtful even in the literal presence of the risen Lord. Don’t I doubt today even when the wonder of God’s presence should be obvious? Above all, I would have seen the face of my Lord. But don’t I already see that face in the face of Lewinsville congregants who cherish and comfort their friends, come faithfully to worship, and constantly work to build and support their friends and community? Don’t I see that face in the firefighter who runs into the burning building, not out of it? Don’t I see the face of God in the face of a nurse who shows up for work every day fully conscious she is risking her life to save others?
So perhaps witnessing the resurrection wouldn’t have changed me, but only reminded me of a truth I sometimes forget. After all, had I been there I would have been washed in grace, loved unconditionally, and saved for all eternity. But that is true today. Perhaps we don’t need additional proof of what we already know. We just need to remember it. A blessed Eastertide to all.
Gracious God in this time of fear help us remember your infinite love revealed in the gift of your Son our Lord Jesus the Christ. Amen