posted Mar 28, 2018, 10:30 AM by Cameron Hubanks   [ updated Mar 28, 2018, 10:34 AM ]

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.”
John 20:1

It was the women who saw where Jesus’ body was buried. It was the women who first saw that the tomb was empty, who first witnessed the risen Jesus and brought this incredible news back to the disciples. How very strange in a culture where the testimony of women held no authority or credibility. The men, of course, had to see for themselves – the tomb first, then Jesus. Thomas even asked to see and touch Jesus’ wounds. The significance of the empty tomb, God’s defining act of salvation celebrated by Christians worldwide, is a matter of faith.
For some, faith is easy. For others, it is a constant struggle. Faith is more than believing that something is true; it is as much a work of the heart as it is the head. Even the concept of God is a divine mystery – the more you come to know, the more clearly you understand that God is always greater than you will ever be able to grasp. The Mystery that is God is not something that can be solved, like a puzzle, but is revealed and experienced as something beyond our usual ways of knowing. So faith is about what you believe and it also about choosing to trust when reason fails. It is a way of living into that knowledge that is grounded in a relationship with the living God.
Faith takes time and commitment and persistence. Faith is unique to every individual – one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:9), and is nurtured in community. It is the collective faith of the community that supports and sustains us in times when our individual faith feels tested and strained. It is the collective faith of the community that compels us to gather to worship and teach, to break bread together and serve. It is the collective faith of the community that reflects Jesus’ message of love and grace and forgiveness to a world that hungers and thirsts for hope.
Too often, people have come to church hoping to find Jesus and instead finding an empty tomb. The
people may be friendly and welcoming, the sanctuary may be beautifully appointed, the Sunday school classrooms filled with well-behaved and attentive children, the coffers filled with tithes and offerings. But the risen Christ is nowhere to be found, or at least the new life he promised is not readily visible or even acknowledged.
Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber challenges us to think about resurrection as an on-going phenomenon, “It happens to all of us, God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over, in ways both dramatic and small.”
This month, as we gather with the Search Committee to talk about what makes Zwingli UCC in Paoli, WI distinctive and dream together about where God is leading in your search for a new pastor, yours are the resurrection stories that need to be told. Why did you come? What keeps you coming back? Who is your neighbor and how does the church serve them? What have you learned from the past? Where is God leading and challenging the church today?
The world is different – our lives are different – because the tomb was empty. The risen Jesus is at the heart of everything we do, and everything we do witnesses to our community and our world the power and the glory of the God we believe in.
Blessings to all this Easter season!
Pastor Laura