The Scripture Readings this Sunday will be:
- From the Letters of the Church: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
- Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (VU p.837 Parts 1-3)
- From the Gospel: Luke 24:1-12
Also the Story for All Ages will be based on John 20:1-18
The Hymns will be:
- #157 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
- In the Garden (see insert)
- #173 Thine is the Glory
- #481 Sent Forth by God’s Blessing
The Sermon title is Finding the Tomb of Jesus
Early thoughts: It made big news. Someone was convinced they had found the family tomb of Jesus and Mary -- and had the ossuary inscriptions and DNA results to prove it.
Among all the fuss were those who saw such a claim as a direct threat to their faith. To find the bones of Jesus was seen to contradict the Easter story. If Jesus was raised in body then his bones would not be around to be found. And to many the suggestion that Jesus was married and had children is an abominable suggestion.
Now there were many others who discounted the claims about the lost tomb for totally different reasons--it was simply bad science to make the claims they were making. Jeshua was a common name, so was Mary (in the Gospels alone there are enough Mary's that one needs a scorecard to keep them straight). All science could prove is that this was a family tomb and that two of the names were Jeshua/Jesus and Mary. DNA testing proves relationships betweent he bones but do we have a sample of DNA from Jesus of Nazareth, the one called Christ, to testagainst? Of course not. The claim is totally unproveable (coincidentally it is equally impossible to prove the claim wrong but the burden of proof lies on those making the claim).
This Sunday we talk about other people who went in search of the tomb of Jesus. Their search was based on love, not on seeking media glory. Jesus was their friend and they wanted to make sure his body was properly treated in burial. But of course their quest for a tomb and body was equally vain. Instead of anointing the body they found an empty cave. There was no body (or nobody) there. Instead there was the news that Jesus had been raised, that death had been conquered, that life had won.
There are a couple of places in Jerusalem that claim to be the site of that empty cave. There are special services held at sunrise on Easter at those places. But does it really matter if we know where the supposed tomb was? Does it really matter if there was even a tomb? In many cultures traitors were left on display as a warning to others. Jesus died the death of a political trouble maker, it is plausible that he was left to rot in the desert sun and there was no tomb (full or empty).
But in the end debates about what really happened will miss the point. Faith isn't based on historic events, faith is a matter of the heart. Each year we walk with the women to the garden seeking for the one who brings life. Each year we seek for the tomb, even though we know that it will be empty. We do it not so much because we want to see the hole but because we continue to hunger for the promised new life and rebirth.
There are many tombs in this world, many places of darkness and sadness. Easter provides the cure for all of them. This Sunday we walk to the place of death only to find life. May God bless us with the Good News yet again. CHrist is Risen, He is Risen Indeed. HALLELUJAH!