Footsteps to Follow: How will you come to the tomb?
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?'” (Mark 16:1-3 NIV).
This weekend, many Christians from various denominations around the world will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. They will likely sing the familiar hymns and choruses, share in the liturgies, and read the familiar scriptures from the Gospels about the early hours of that Sunday morning. They will hear the well-known stories of the women and the disciples as they came to the borrowed tomb, generously given by Joseph of Arimathea, there in the garden.
Each Gospel has different aspects of these events, but in Mark’s telling, we read first about the women. These women came in the early hours of the morning to care for the body of their rabbi and friend who had been hurriedly put in the tomb before the Sabbath began on Friday at sundown. They wanted to honor him in his death by caring for his physical body, anointing it with spices as was their custom. We can almost feel the solemnity of their walk along the road toward the garden tomb, but Mark reminds us that they went despite the challenge that lay before them. They knew that a large round stone had been placed in front of the tomb, one that would have been too big for any of them to move, but they went anyway. They went with sorrow and determination driven by love and respect.
I wonder, on this Holy Saturday, how will Christians come to the tomb this Easter? With all that has happened over the past year, it is easy to come with sadness and sorrow, with mourning and disappointment for much of what has been given up or lost over these past months. Many have lost health and wages, businesses and loved ones, significant events that could not be celebrated and time with family. Others have simply lost peace, so do the faithful come this Easter as the women did, with hearts heavy with loss and pain? The world would certainly tell them that they are justified in that perspective. It has been a hard year.
Christians, though, proclaim to be a resurrection people. They know that death did not have the final say, either that morning in the garden or in our own time. I hope, instead, that Christ-followers will come this Easter with hope and expectation of something miraculous and wonderful. Maybe they will come to the tomb like Peter, not exactly sure what he would find, but with an expectant curiosity. May they quickly realize that the gardener is, in fact, the resurrected Christ who brings with Him great hope for a hurting world. May they not fret. May they weep as they must for what has been lost, but then I encourage Christians to come to the tomb with joy and gladness, knowing that there is a Mighty God and a Risen Savior who awaits!
Rev. Dr. Lenore Hosier, Pastor of Saint John’s-Newberry United Methodist Church, Williamsport