Lectionary Reflection for the Resurrection of our Lord, Year C
March 27, 2016
Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. Luke 24:10-11
The apostles did not believe them. They were, after all, women. What could they possibly know? The apostles themselves were spent, devastated, and fearful; all they had staked their lives on was over. Dead and stinking gone. And now these women come back babbling about Jesus rising from the dead! What kind of idle tale and foolishness were they prattling on about? It was, of course, simply too fantastic to be true.
Peter, dear fallible and impetuous Peter, heard a ring of hope in the women’s story. Perhaps he, too, remembered Jesus’ words. He had to see for himself, so he ran and witnessed with his own eyes that it was just as the women had said. Amazing!
This is the snippet of the story given in today’s gospel. The rest of Luke’s account includes the sighting on the walk to Emmaus, Jesus appearing among the disciples and eating some fish, followed by the ascension. It’s a chapter jam-packed with action. Yet for this Year C Resurrection Sunday, all we really get is what is perceived as an idle tale from some most unlikely evangelists. And what are we to do with that?
Maybe on March 27, 2016, this is just the account we need to hear. Perhaps we all need a reminder that Jesus’ resurrection is announced to the most unlikely of people — women without power and stature — and then confirmed by a flawed disciple who denied his Lord three times on the night of Jesus’ arrest. It could be that we need reminding that Jesus continues to turn things upside down and inside out, surprising folks with good news that defies logic AND the forces of evil, empire, and even death. In a year where political posturing and bluster, terrorism, climate change, a massive refugee crisis, hunger, and economic uncertainty fill the media and confound our minds, a dozen short verses may be just the ticket–enough to surprise us and shake us out of our fearful complacency.
Yes, God is doing a new thing in a new way for a new day. Jesus is risen and because of those first women witnesses, we have an audacious hope and a real future. All of us! Everyone! This is news that is celebration material and praiseworthy proclamation. How can we keep from singing and sharing this amazing news.
So pull out the stops today. Steward well and share prodigally this real hope and amazing truth. Whether you gather in the pale light of a cemetery at daybreak or in a lily-scented, gussied-up church building, do these three simple things:
Remember Jesus’ words and the wild witness of the women,
Return to the world after worship, and
Recount the resurrection story to others.
We are not defeated. We need not be dismayed. The One we seek has risen. What we have is more than enough. We have life, real life now, and real life forever. Thanks be to God. And thanks be to you for your faithful proclamation and willingness to share what may seem idle and fantastic but is joyously and blessedly true.
Taking it to the Streets
Challenge congregants, in the words of the old Doobie Brothers song, to take it to the street. Take that Easter message right on out the door. Trust that we have enough, that in Christ we are empowered to tell the story, and begin to live anew like the resurrection people we are. In fact, consider recessing right out of the building with alleluia banners, bubbles for the children, and love to share with the world.
Chances are you won’t have much time with youth today. If you do, consider this fun “tie-dye” craft and short instructional video from SALT Project. Post it on your congregation’s FB page, and encourage families to try it at home as an Easter afternoon or evening project. Hey, you have to do something with those extra eggs, right?
Time with Children
Instead of focusing on the gospel lesson today with the children, why not link Easter to the verses from Psalm 118, especially verse 24: “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Tell them why we can be glad–because God has done something amazing and Jesus is truly “living proof.” Give the children party horns, white crepe paper streamers, and bubbles in a paper lunch bag decorated with symbols of Easter and Psalm 118:24 written on it. Invite them to recess out with you at the end of worship, blowing their horns. Then once they’re outside, let them blow bubbles, too. And be liberal with those “alleluias” now that we have them back in worship. We have good news! We need to celebrate. But first, invite the children to pray a simple prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus and for real, lasting life.
(Photos: Ted and Mary Constance, Creative Commons. Thanks!)