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When we still don't know what to make of this

"Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this." Luke 24:1-4 (CEB)

Very early in the morning, before the sun has risen, the women make a grief-filled pilgrimage to the tomb where their friend and teacher has just been buried. The couldn’t make time for all the burial rituals, as they were making preparations for the sabbath day, and they had to make do with a borrowed tomb. But now, they’ve made up a special blend of spices and oil and intend to anoint the body, making the best of an awful situation. They haven’t really made a plan, and they’re worrying how they’re going to make it all work— who will roll the stone away? Except, when they arrive, the stone is already rolled away, and it looks like someone has made off with the body! They didn’t know what to make of it all.

But suddenly, some angels appear and in their fear and shock, the women make themselves small, bending to the ground. The angels reassure them, make them stand up straight and tall. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” they ask. “He is not here! He has risen! Just as he said!” And finally the women remember everything Jesus tried to make them understand before these awful days. They made up their minds that this must be the truth, and they rush back to tell all their other friends. Except to everyone who wasn’t there, this seemed like a made-up story, maybe the denial of grief, or wishful thinking, or even just the foolish emotions of women.

Even so, no one could ever make Peter sit still— not for a minute— and he ran out to see for himself, John just behind him, neck-and-neck the whole way there, until they make it to the tomb, and see that it’s empty. At least the women didn’t make that up— but what are they supposed to make of this story that the Lord is risen from the dead? They don’t know what to make of it, and return to see the others.

But no one could ever make Mary Magdalene leave Jesus before she was ready— and no one’s been able to make her stop crying either— so they leave her lingering in the garden. She’s interrupted by someone… just a few gentle questions: “Why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” And she tries to make this gardener tell her where they’ve taken her friend and teacher. She tries to make him understand that whatever they’ve done with the body, she’ll take it back, she’ll find a way to make it work. But then, he says her name, and at the sound of her voice she makes out who he really is. It’s her teacher, her friend, her rescuer.

He’s made good on his promises, he’s made his way out of the grave into a wild new life, and he’s making all things new. He makes her the first one to announce the resurrection— “I have seen the Lord,” she preaches. And when the disciples still don’t know what to make of it all, Jesus keeps making them breakfast and making them dinner and making them understand. He makes them into Apostles and makes a new mission statement— go into all the world and preach the good news. He tells them to keep making new communities of radical love and hospitality— to keep making dinner and to keep making room.

And even now, even when we don’t know what to make of it, God is still making all things new. Let us make the most of our days as God makes good on these promises of new and abundant life. Let us keep showing up to the dark tombs and making way for the surprising hope of resurrection life, even here, even now.


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