But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. –Luke 24:1-12
To the dear ones who are experiencing their first, or fifth or twenty-fifth Easter missing beloved parents, spouses, children, friends, and family, to those who are experiencing the loss of work or security, who know the grief of which the scripture speaks today, it is no idle tale, the stone is rolled away, Jesus is risen and you will rise, too.
To the dear ones whose spouses have not kept their promises, even as you have kept yours; whose children or grandchildren are far off, whose relationships have been less than what you hoped for, prayed for or expected, it is no idle tale, the stone is rolled away, Jesus is risen and you will rise, too.
To the dear ones who are burdened by stress at work, stress at home, debt, addiction, bad decisions, whose bodies betray them – or who watch sadly as a loved one’s body runs down and out, it is no idle tale, the stone is rolled away, Jesus is risen and you will rise, too.
To the dear ones who have experienced casual prejudice, overt racism, the trauma of sexual assault and abuse, whose love has been run down with loose words and cheap criticism; to those who have been hurt by the church, it is no idle tale, the stone is rolled away, Jesus is risen and you will rise, too.
Easter is the healing promise, the hope that God gives. Let Easter be about the resurrection from the burdens that we bear and the struggles that threaten to overcome us. Whatever it is that is challenging your faith in our eternal, living and life-changing God – hear this good news, it is no idle tale, the stone is rolled away, Jesus is risen and you will rise, too.
The Rev. William (Bill) Gohl, Jr., Bishop
Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA