It’s late morning and, as I look out of my window over the Rectory garden, I am treated to a glorious Spring view. The sky is blue. A brilliant sun picks out the colours in the trees; both leaf and blossom. Yet when I look more closely, I can see in the shady corners of the garden the lingering remnants of last night’s snow; while the thermometer records a mere 3 degrees. When I step outside, I will find the breeze ruffling the trees bitterly cold. Seeing can be deceptive.
Very early on the first day of the week, many years ago, a small group of women went to Jesus’ tomb. They went to anoint his body, to pay their respects, to mourn. As they went, they discussed who would open the tomb for them so that they could anoint his body. They went quite unprepared for what they were about to experience.
Opening the tomb proved not to be a problem. As they approached, they could see that the giant stone sealing the entrance had been rolled away. Up close, they could see that the tomb was empty; the body had been taken. After much to-ing and fro-ing, during which no body is found, Mary is left alone outside the empty tomb. Seeing a stranger she takes to be the gardener, she asks ‘where have you taken him?’ – Seeing can be deceptive.
Several hours later, two men walking home to Emmaus from Jerusalem encounter a stranger. ‘What are you discussing?’, he asks. ‘Are you the only man in all Jerusalem that doesn’t know what has happened?’ comes the reply. How could this stranger have missed it all they wonder? – Seeing can be deceptive.
Only when the ‘gardener’ spoke her name, Mary, did she see who it was. Only when the ‘stranger’ broke bread at their table, did the two friends from Emmaus see who the stranger really was. It took a personal touch.
Last Sunday the sun shone, we knew the tomb was empty because Jesus was risen, we knew it was good news. Now, as we step back from the empty tomb, as we turn our sights towards Pentecost, what will we see? Will our expectations deceive us, or will we see and hear the personal touch; the call to each of us that only we can know?
Rev Philip Payne
The Pew Sheet for 11 April 2021 can be found here