The Resurrection of our Lord, Vigil of Easter, Year B

Inspired by Mark 16:1-8

“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.’” Mark 16:5-6 (NRSV)

When we have lost something, it makes sense to look for it in the last place we remember seeing it. The women had lost Jesus; after the Sabbath, they went to look for him in the last place they’d seen him: in the tomb where he’d been buried.

Except they weren’t looking for the Jesus they knew. They were looking for what was left of Jesus—for his dead body. They had seen him die, they were certain he was gone forever, and they wanted to properly anoint the body in order to give it a proper burial. They were looking for what was left of the teacher they’d loved and followed in order to say goodbye.

But Jesus wasn’t there. The empty shell of his body had risen, full again of his life, and he’d left the place of eternal rest in order to continue his mission of offering eternal life. The women would have the opportunity to say many things to Jesus, but ‘goodbye’ would not be one of them.

Jesus lives even today. If we put him aside, out of sight and out of mind, he doesn’t stay there. He doesn’t hide out in churches and chapels, avoiding people’s workplaces, homes, and recreational spots. He is wherever people may need him, always willing to say ‘hello’ to those who seek him, but never ‘goodbye.’

Let us pray. Living Lord, you conquered death and offer eternal life. Help us to seek you in the ordinary places of our lives, that we may experience your extraordinary grace in all that we do. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Good Friday, Year B

Inspired by Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2 (NRSV)

It’s not uncommon for people under duress to resort to scripture for their prayers; sometimes we’re just too emotional or distraught to verbalize what we need, so we use the words of others who have come before us, who have already said what we need to say now. This is what Jesus did when he was in agony on the cross; he quoted a verse from a psalm, since he knew the Hebrew scriptures very well.

But the verse he quoted was only the beginning of the psalm. The psalm, though it begins on a note of anguish, continues through hope to end with praise, thanksgiving, and joy. Verse 24 proclaims, “For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.” The final three verses declare, “To him, indeed shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.”

Though Jesus was experiencing anguish and abandonment on the cross, the psalm he clung to also tells of God’s deliverance of the one who cried out. It proclaims that God has dominion over all on the earth and under the earth, and that even death cannot stop God’s deliverance.

God is active in every part of our lives, and even when it feels like God is far away, know that he is still active, working for your deliverance. He has not forsaken you, but has redeemed you as his own.

Let us pray. God of hope, you will never abandon your people. Make yourself known to us in our darkest hours, that we may feel the comforting embrace of your eternal love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Maundy Thursday, Year B

Inspired by John 13:1-17, 31b-35

“Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’” John 13:8-10 (NRSV)

We live in a culture in which ‘more’ is equated with ‘better.’ We live as though there’s never too much of a good thing, and ‘enough’ simply doesn’t exist.

As such, Peter’s behavior in this exchange with Jesus is completely understandable to us. At first Peter is reluctant to have his Lord wash his feet, a duty usually performed by the lowliest of house servants. But when Jesus tells him that he will have no share or place with him if Peter refuses, Peter goes the other way. If a foot washing will get him a share with Jesus, then a foot, hand, and head washing will get him a much bigger share! Peter wants the biggest share possible, so he wants Jesus to wash all of him.

But God in Christ offers us what we need, not necessarily what we want. God in Christ offers us enough—no more, no less. Jesus informs Peter that the foot washing will be sufficient, does what he needs to do, and goes about his business.

The grace God has given us in Christ Jesus is sufficient. The gifts God has given us in this life are adequate to the tasks set before us. We may need to grow and stretch somewhat, but we will always have what we need to accomplish what God expects of us.

Let us pray. God of grace, you give us that which we need. Help us to be satisfied with what we have, that we may not despise your gifts out of greed and vanity. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.