He is not here (18-04-22)
Bible Reading: Matthew 28:1-7
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women,
"Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples:
'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee."
Having a place to go to remember a loved one who has died can be very important. Our daughter Anna loved the sea and lived a few hundred yards from it in Norfolk. So, when she died, it seemed fitting to scatter her ashes in the sea. As a memorial to her we and her husband had a seat placed on the cliff overlooking where we scattered her ashes.
On the first Easter morning the women go to the tomb where Jesus was buried, to carry out their ritual ceremonies for the dead. Instead they encounter an angel who greets them with what must be some of the most powerful words in the bible, ‘He is not here, he has risen.’
Whilst ‘Anna’s seat’ is a good place to go to remember her, especially on the anniversary of her death, we know that she is not there. As the angels might say to us, ‘She is not here, she has risen’. Life goes on and we remember her every day, in many different situations and locations.
Churches are a good place to go to meet with God and to remember all that Jesus did for us, but I wonder sometimes if our location of God in a church, and specifically at the altar, prevents us from encountering him in the people we meet and the places we visit each and every day.
There are times in church when I wonder if the angels aren’t saying to us, ‘He is not here, he has risen’. The Risen Jesus is no longer confined to a time or a place, he is around us through his Holy Spirit, and he is within us, for the Temple of God is now the People of God.
The angel goes on to say, ‘Go quickly and tell his disciples he is going ahead of you into Galilee’. This surely is where the mission of the Church begins, as we go out and share the good news of the risen Jesus, initially with those we know and love. But there was no going back to the tomb for the women or for the disciples, for the next stop was Galilee, the place the disciples knew, the place where they had contacts and connections. And Jesus was going there ahead of them.
I wonder where your Galilee is. Where do you have contacts and connections? Could these be the places where God is calling you to find ways to share your faith? The good news is that, as you go, he is going ahead of you, just as he went into Galilee ahead of the disciples.
Holy Spirit, help me to live in the truth that ‘He is not here, he has risen’
And help me to encounter you in the places where I go and to share you with the people that I meet.
See, what a morning