It’s Easter Sunday and our text can be found here. Be sure to check out the Working Preacher Commentary here.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” the two men asked the women at the tomb…
Are you looking for the living among the dead?
Who are the dead? They are the ones who are filled with anger and hatred. They are the ones who have been abused and broken by circumstances. They are the ones who have used drugs, alcohol, computers, and even people until there’s nothing left. They are the ones who have lost more than they ever had.
I have walked among the dead.
How in our lives do we look for the living among the dead? Do we do it in our marriages, trying to resurrect romance that has been gone for years? Do we do it in our jobs, jobs where we feel stagnated and exhausted? Do we do it in our churches, fighting with budgets and committees when we want to be loving people? Do we do it in our own emotional lives, trying to awaken from our numbness and fear?
The two men at the tomb ask the question of the women, as if it’s unusual to seek the living among the dead…
But isn’t that what ministry is about? Finding the life, the light, the way among the dead?
Nearly forty days ago, I started a Couch to 5K (C25K) program. The first week, I huffed and puffed, running sixty seconds, walking ninety seconds, for a total of 20 minutes. The second week, I ran ninety seconds and walked three minute intervals. Each week, the running got longer, the walking shorter. This morning, for the first time in more than a year, I ran 2 miles. As I enjoyed the last few minutes of the run, I realized that this was giving me life—waking up parts of me that have been dead for a while.
How will you find the living among the dead this Sunday morning?
There will be the dead in your sanctuary. There will be people who are lonely. People who are sad. People who are hungry for life. People who are in need of sanctuary. People who are scared. People who are anxious. People who are sick. And people who are dying.
When the men standing at the tomb are talking to the women, they say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” I know the answer. It’s because resurrection happens. We look for the living among the dead because new life happens. We look for the living among the dead because we have to have hope.
But you should note something in verse 5 that the NRSV misses—the word “living” in the Greek is zonta, the present active participle singular of zaó, to live. The best translation is really, “the living one.”
I know that resurrection happens because of The Living One. Once and for all, Jesus shows us that life can come out of death. Whether it’s eternal life, or feeling alive, we can live again—and we will. Again and again and again.
My prayer for you this Easter is that you will help your congregations, your visitors, and even your own self, feel that new life.
What about you? How will you preach new life this Easter?
- Michelle Heinrichs made me wonder about the low expectations of the women at the tomb. In what ways do you and your church have low expectations?
- This tomb is empty. What tombs in your life are empty? Is there a way to turn your disappointment into hope?
- The women returned to the disciples to tell them that Jesus was gone. The men didn’t believe them. How is this mirrored in the life around you?
- Spring has sprung. That’s one way there’s new life in the world. What are some others?
- Resurrection has to be practiced. Read Wendell Berry’s Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front here.
Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).
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