Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, "They took the Master from the tomb. We don't know where they've put him." (John 20:1-2 The Message)
Day one. Sunday. Resurrection day. The first day of a new way of life. And yet, Jesus' friends don’t even realize it. It is still dark when Mary Magdalene leaves her house. The sun is not yet up, although, unbeknownst to her, the Son is.
The eastern sky is just beginning to brighten, but Mary doesn’t want to wait any longer. The other women would join her shortly to care for the corpse of their beloved Master. The coming of the Sabbath had forced them to cut short their burial preparations. They could hardly bear to leave his body in the tomb.
So now, very early, at the first possible moment, they return to him to finish their work. But someone has moved the stone. The tomb’s doorway is open. Wide open.
Had someone disturbed Jesus' body? Or worse, taken it away for some horrible reason? A quick look inside, in the darkness, and Mary realizes the truth: Jesus is gone.
Quickly she runs to Peter, who, despite his earlier denials of Christ, is is still considered the leader of the band. John, the disciple Jesus loved, is with him.
Mary blurts the awful news to them: Jesus' body has been stolen from the tomb! Who could have done it? Where could they have taken him?
Panic. Fear. Revulsion. Grief. Confusion. All rolled into one.
When the unexpected hits you, what do you do? Where do you turn? To your loved ones? Your brothers and sisters in the Spirit?
Together, with your family of faith, you can discover the wonder of God working out the holy will that can break through our routine in astonishing ways. You can be with each other, support each other, trust each other, hold each other, and accept what God is doing in your midst. And go forward from there together.
You’ve probably already experienced this in many ways. In the aftermath of 9/11, churches were overflowing with grieving, hurting, frightened people seeking hope and support. But on a more personal scale, when some unexpected event hits home—the loss of a loved one, bad news from a doctor, the termination of a job—one of the first places I turn to is my church.
Because in the midst of the family of faith, resurrections happen.
Jesus, where have you gone? The unthinkable has happened. Your body is missing. What could possibly have happened? Who can I turn to? I will turn to my family of faith, for support, for insight, for strength. We will get through this. We will trust God together. We will gain strength from each other. No matter what the shock of life is that I may face today, help me to turn to you, and to my friends in faith. Amen.
[Adapted from LIVING LOVED: KNOWING JESUS AS THE LOVER OF YOUR SOUL, Church Publishing, 2007]