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Easter message – The empty tomb

the empty tomb of jesus from inside looking out the light coming through the opened tomb highlighting the cloths left on the slab picking out dimly the features of the space

Dear Friends

One of the pictures in the Methodist Modern Art Collection is one by Richard Bavin, The Empty Tomb. Richard Bavin – The Empty Tomb – Methodist Church. It uses simple shapes and contrasting colours to define the space and express the empty tomb.

Its perspective is from inside looking out- the light coming through the opened tomb highlighting the cloths left on the slab, picking out dimly the features of the space.

It is a still moment, a very quiet moment- after all the bustle and clamouring of the previous days but it is not the same stillness of death- there is more a sense of anticipation- what will happen next?

Here today we are blessed with viewing the Easter events with hindsight- we recall and remember them as they have been passed down to us. But on that first day – with their world seemingly collapsed around them I wonder how the disciples, the named and the unnamed, were dealing with this.

The quiet would not necessarily been comforting or strengthening but something to be endured- to get through- whilst they regrouped all their plans and hopes.

And so we hear how three named women, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James and Salome brought sweet smelling spices to anoint Jesus' body since he had been buried in such a rush, they had taken the time to note where he had been laid to rest so they could return.

Their main voiced concern was practical- how would they get in the tomb? They could not expect to find help from the other disciples, who else could they ask?

But it was not an issue- instead they were faced with a young man in a white robe by the rolled away stone- who reassured them Jesus is not here but that he would be going ahead of them and they will see him.

It is only in this account from Mark that there is no actual appearance by Jesus. There is one later on, but it is possible the verses from 9 onwards were a later addition to smooth out the abrupt and open ending that Mark offers.

The women have a very human reaction to the situation. They run away; seized by terror and amazement and we are told, ironically as it turns out, that they said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.

What a cliffhanger ending... until we realise that something must have been said at some point, Jesus must have been seen otherwise we would not be sat here today, experiencing these words

But I think it is comfort for all of us because I wonder how many times we have been frozen in fear not wanting to say anything- especially when what we are confronted with seems absolutely impossible to us, or when we do not understand what is going on. When we suddenly discover a future that we did not think was possible just a few short minutes ago.

No wonder the artist wanted to spend that time being still and reflecting on the Empty Tomb.

Never before had being empty meant so much could be fulfilled.

So in this in between time – a liminal space that marks the doorway from one way of being and doing things, into a new way- let us sit quietly and ponder the empty tomb even as we let the joy of its meaning fill us.

Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Easter blessings
Rev Karen

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