Different: Easter Thoughts

It's Easter morning here in France.

And it's, well, it's different. Different than any Easter I've ever celebrate. It's different in some obvious ways: I'm not at home; there will be no big Easter dinner, no sunrise service. I'm not even at church this morning because I've been battling a stomach bug of sorts the last few days and didn't have enough energy to walk the 25 minutes up and down hills to church. I do have some Easter candy from home, but that'll have to wait until I get better.

This Easter Sunday is not what I expected.

I can't help but wonder if that's okay.

This morning I read Mark's version of the resurrection. He used just 8 verses to tell the story of the women going to the tomb. 

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. - Mark 16:1-8

Simple and direct, Mark doesn't use many details. It's the morning after the Sabbath and the women are on their way to finish preparing the body properly for burial. As they're going, they can't help but wonder how they're going to move the stone covering the tomb. Turns out that it's not a problem because the stone has been moved already so they go inside where they're greeted by a young man dressed in white, an angel.

This angel has simple words for them. "Don't be afraid. I know you're looking for Jesus but He's not here. He's alive. Come, see for yourself." He also gives them instructions for Peter and the disciples. The women left the tomb, frightened and silent in their fear.

It was different from what they expected, not exactly how they thought the day would go. The usual process, how the day and task should have gone, all of that was changed in an instant.

Jesus was alive! They didn't need the ritual of burial anymore.

There is nothing wrong with the rituals of Easter, as long as Jesus' resurrection is the reason for celebration and the focus of the day. But I don't need them.

I can celebrate His resurrection with bread and chicken broth just as well as I can over spiral ham and casseroles. I can praise His name just as well sitting on my bed not feeling well as I can sitting in a pew feeling healthy. I can find joy in the Giver of Life whether or not I'm eating chocolate eggs that are supposed to remind me of life.

All those things are great, but, in spite of different, this morning I can and will celebrate Resurrection Sunday!

Christ is risen from the dead! He's alive! He conquered death; He gave me hope and life! And with my heart and my voice and all that I am I will praise Him!

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