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03.31.13 May We All Go Home Amazed Luke 24:1-12

by on April 1, 2013

It started out as idle talk on the first day of the week. Break room chatter. Water cooler conversation. Avoiding work. “March madness!” “Cinderella story.” “The pope washed the feet of a Muslim girl.”

But for the Jews that morning the first day of the week was different. Sabbath was done. The weekend was over. It was time to resume the routines.

Only this morning … not so routine. The women carried spices; not for the day’s cooking, but for the body of Jesus. And on their way to the tomb: Idle talk. “Who will roll the stone away?” “Where did you buy your myrrh?” “I don’t know if we’ll make it back to Jerusalem next year for Passover.”

On their way back from the tomb: An idle tale

There are all kinds of tales. Fairy tales

: Of Grimm varietal if you’re of a certain vintage; of Tinker Bell if of another. Veggie tales: If you like to talk to tomatoes. Tall tales: If the fish you caught was this big!

The disciples heard the women’s story and dismissed it as an idle tale: Sitting still, biding time, doing nothing—an idle tale.

On that morning, on the first day of the week, we see three responses to the idle tale: (1) Fear it, (2) Don’t believe it, (3) Be amazed by it.

First: To fear it.

When first the women heard the idle tale they … were … terrified. They came looking for a body; they didn’t find one. They knew Jesus was dead, and saw him put into that tomb. They returned to anoint his body, and that’s what they expected, to find a body.

We experience dying long before we experience death. Every hope that’s ever been hijacked. Every dream that’s ever been dashed.

For these women, Jesus was the embodiment of hopes and dreams. The promises of God made flesh.

They return to the tomb to refresh the body. For the bittersweet memory that for a time—a brief, wonderful, happy time—we had hope, and we had dreams.

They came expecting to find the body, but the body wasn’t there.

 

What is more unsettling than putting hopes and dreams to rest? To be told they still exist even though you’ve seen them die. To face that pain of losing hope again, to endure the trauma of a dream rudely awaken, is … terrifying.

So we tell ourselves it can’t be true. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

To be told our hopes and dreams are not where we left them, among the dead, but are among the living, is … scary. We fear the idle tale.

Second: Don’t believe the idle tale.

“He is risen” the women told the disciples. “Risen?!” they responded. The disciples name what the women feared: That all this is an idle tale. They don’t believe the women. They don’t believe the idle tale. Why not? We don’t know.

Unbelief is a mystery to the faithful, as faith is a mystery to the unbelieving.

The Eleven and those with them heard the idle tale and did not believe it.

Except … perhaps … one.

Peter had learned something about idle talk, about not knowing what to say but saying something anyway. Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the mountain: “Let’s build three shrines and stay up here.” Jesus talked about suffering and death: “Stop this negative talk, it doesn’t market well.” Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. “Wash my hands and my head as well!” The servant girl outed him as a disciple: “I tell you, Woman, I do not know the man!”

Say anything, just to say something. Fill the silence with sound. Light a candle in the darkness. Idle talk.

But this morning, for once, Peter was silent. Mary, Joanna, and Magdalene were just women telling idle tales—to some … to most … to all … except Peter. Peter listened. Here was a silence even he couldn’t break with idle talk.

So he listened to the idle tale. And he heard divine whisperings.

Maybe he remembered Elijah, the great and mighty prophet of old, who ended up so depressed he hid in a cave. There he listened for God, but he didn’t hear God in the mighty wind, or in the shaking thunder, or in the roaring fire; not in the bestselling book, or in the exuberant praise band, or in the lavish liturgies.

Elijah heard God in the still … small … voice. That voice that now harmonized the women’s idle tale. And Peter heard it.

“Remember what Jesus told you in Galilee,” the messengers told the women. Peter remembered: The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again. That’s the idle tale. Hear it again: The Son of Man, the embodiment of hopes and dreams, the beloved one in whom God was well pleased, must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.

The third day. Had it really only been three days? Thursday night Peter denied knowing Jesus. His dreams were deteriorating, his hopes were halting. He had already begun to not believe. A crisis of faith. Doubt. Guilt. Remorse. Tears. Silence. Listening … listening.

Listening to an idle tale. Listening to others dismiss it. Hearing again the Word of God: “And on the third day, rise again.”

But this wasn’t only the third day, this was a first day—the first day of the week. A week has seven days; this is day one. Weren’t there seven days of creation? And on day one, didn’t God’s Spirit hover over the waters, and then create light?

This is the day of light and then the light turned on for Peter. This is the third day! “And on the third day rise again.” This is the first day of the week, but not the first day of the seven day creation, but the eighth day, the start of a new creation! A new day is dawning! God promised a new heaven and a new earth. The dream dwells on; our hopes hang in.

Oh, yes! Peter remembered.

Until the women remembered, they were terrified.

Until the disciples remember, they will not believe.

But Peter remembered, and he was amazed at what had happened.

The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners.

Be crucified.

And … on the third day … rise again.

Sin kills the Son of Man.

Sin kills the dreams and hopes of every man and every woman.

But on the third day.

God … gives … life.

Remember God’s Word, remember your baptism, do this in remembrance of Christ.

And may we all go home … Amazed! Amen.

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