“What do you seek?”
Adams United Methodist Church
Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church
Pastor Missy McCarthy
Music: Sue& Craig Gamet, Cindy Intschert, Jennie Mantle, Mike Tyo, Sharon DelSignore
April 4, 2021 Easter
Luke 24:1-12, 52-53
Children’s Moment: (Hide and Seek, Lost things, Jellybeans)
Have you ever played hide and seek? What happens when you have found almost everyone but the last person? Do you get a little frustrated? What about when you are looking and looking and looking and they just aren’t there? You know they have to be somewhere, but you can’t find them.
Unlike when we are playing a game and are expecting someone to be hidden, the women knew where Jesus was supposed to be. They were looking and looking for him so they could finish taking care of his body. They were also incredibly sad because he had died, and they missed him terribly. When they could not find him, they just didn’t know what to do, until the angels showed up. The angles told them they were looking in the wrong places because Jesus was not really dead. They were excited and I imagine a little confused about all that this meant. It must have been kind of like finding the last person hiding and winning the game even if they didn’t yet find Jesus.
I have a gift for each of you. It is a small bag of Jellybeans. This is different then the one you got from Sunday school. This one helps you remember the story of Easter and the women’s hope every time you see jellybeans this week. Let’s open our bags. When you see the red ones, you can remember the wine from the last super and the promise of the kingdom to come. When we see the green ones, we remember the garden and Jesus’ weeping, he knows what it is like when we cry too. When we eat the purple ones, we remember the robes the men dressed Jesus in when they made fun of him. The orange ones remind us of the sky when the sun went dark while Jesus was on the cross when he died. The white one reminds us of the cloth he was wrapped in when they placed him in the tomb. The pink ones are for the sunrise when the women came and the black ones – are for the empty tomb!! Nothing inside, because Jesus has risen to meet us today and remind us that even rocks, stones, and death cannot hold down his love for all of humanity. So, this week as we play with our family hide and seek, or hide our Easter eggs this afternoon, and eat our jellybeans remember that Jesus loves us so much that even death could not keep him from sharing his love with the disciples and us. The power of God is stronger than anything and can transform any situation we are in. Let’s pray together thanking God for love that big.
Reflection: “What do you seek?”
Have you ever searched for something in your house just to realize you didn’t leave it there? Or put something in that very safe place….you know that place. It is so safe that you don’t see the thing you put there for a couple of years afterwards. I am famous for it. My family does not panic when I can’t find something, they just look with me, knowing full well it will most likely turn up eventually…
That is the thing though, the women knew exactly where Jesus should be. They were grieving, but you don’t misplace a body! They had expected to find Jesus in the tomb. They had come expecting to perform a final act of love, to finish taking care of Jesus’ body and perform the rest of the burial rituals. They wanted to make sure everything was done right, and he was properly taken care of, it was one of the last things they could do for the man who had done so much for them. The one who taught them so much about God and God’s love for them. It was their last gift of love to him.
Yet, when they get there - things are just not right. They start getting that uneasy feeling. The rock is moved…it isn’t in the right place. The tomb is open and when they enter Jesus isn’t there. I can almost feel their grief with them afresh. I think anyone who has lost a loved one can imagine what they are going through.
The angels appear and ask them, “why do you look for the living among the dead?” Reminding them of what Jesus told them of having to be delivered to the hands of sinners, be crucified and would rise on the third day. As Joseph Pagano says,
“They hear the good news that Christ is risen from the dead, and they need to change from people who perform burial rites for the dead to apostles who bear witness to the living Lord. They need to stop living in the past and start living in the future. They need to change from people who are bent over with fear, staring at the ground, to people who stand up, go forth, and boldly proclaim that God’s life is stronger than any death, that God’s love is stronger than any hate, that God’s peace is more powerful than human violence, that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and is alive.”
This is a moment when their entire world is flipped upside down. It will take a little bit of time for the immensity to fully set in, but they are no longer people in mourning. They are no longer people stuck in the past, waiting for a long off future, a kingdom far off that will never come to pass or too far away to feel real. No! They are participants in the Kingdom now. They are part of hope and transformation, a world that is changing and they are participants. They bring that word with them to their brothers. They are not passive. They are not just mourners. They are realizers of a new thing happening. It is in this moment that the world literally changes. The Kingdom has come. Jesus is the Messiah. Hope is now and we can all participate in it. It is in this moment that we celebrate with them, because it is for us too. Not just them. Each of us has this too now.
The words from the angels kept striking me this year- “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” It feels as if the angels are not just to all of us this year but shouting a reminder to us. In the last year as we have experienced a collective death of some sort with COVID, all the things are different and not quite the same. We have lost loved ones and were unable to mourn, we have felt isolated, we have been unable to do things we have always known. We have had to say goodbye to so many little and big things, no matter your age. As things begin to open, as more folks receive their COVID shots we go to the tomb expecting to mourn, hoping to reclaim what was and here are the angels reminding us not to look for the living among the dead.
We too are looking into an empty tomb. Nothing is the same, and we are part of the same promise. Life overcomes death. Hope overcomes darkness. We have learned so many lessons – what really matters – what have we missed? I know I have desperately missed the people. When we could not be in person the small groups over zoom kept me going. I missed connecting with folks and it helped me to see your faces, hear your stories. As we begin this new thing, I know our family’s level of busy will make room for friends coming over and shared meals. These are things we missed desperately over the last year. I know I missed time visiting with folks after church and catching up on the week-to-week life – the little things that we took for granted before. Over the last year we have also experienced new life. Places where God has shown up and planted connections and worked among the lay folks to keep everyone connected. It was in the breaking of the women’s hearts that they could hear the message of hope and transformation offered to them from the angel.
I invite you to take the “bloomin hearts” I handed you on the way in. Soak them when you get home, break them apart and plant them as a reminder to look for the living for Jesus. Much like the women we need to look for Jesus among the living! Where is the new life? What is happening that is giving life? Hope? Meaning? Thes