What Are You Bringing to the Tomb?

…they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared... (Luke 24:1)

…they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell… (Matthew 28:8)

Have you started to think about what you will wear to worship on Easter Sunday? How about what you will bring with you? Who will you bring to worship that day?
And what will you take with you when you leave?
Many of us spend a good bit of time deciding that to wear to worship on Easter Sunday. It makes sense that we want to dress up a bit on this great day, using bright colors and new clothes to celebrate the good news that Jesus has, indeed, been raised from the dead.
I wonder, however, what would happen if we spent as much time reflecting on what we bring with us to worship on this great day. Offerings, I hope. A worshipful spirit, yes. But I am thinking more about the “spices” of grief and struggle, disappointment and discouragement, sin and sorrow that we carry around in tightly tied bags buried deep in our hearts. Do we dare to gather them up and bring them with us to worship on Easter Sunday?
The gospel writers Mark and Luke tell us that on that first Easter morning the women brought spices along with them to the tomb. In my mind’s eye, I can see those first witnesses of resurrection so shocked, so surprised, so overwhelmed by the realization that Jesus is risen that they drop the bulging bags on the floor of the tomb. I can see the bags burst as they hit the hard floor. I can smell the place of death filling with the sweet aroma of frankincense and myrrh, like the spices first laid at the cradle of the infant Christ. “He is not here, but has risen.” No need for the spices now.
Is it possible this Easter Sunday for us to be so shocked, so surprised, so overwhelmed by the news that Christ is risen, that we drop our own “spices,” watch the carefully woven bags burst, and smell the sweet aroma of new life rising from the open tomb of our spice-bound days?
I wonder, too, who will you bring to Easter Sunday worship?
I mean this literally, of course. Who needs to hear the good news, but might not go to worship if you don’t invite and bring them? But I also wonder about all those people and communities who are wrapped up in spice bags in the chambers of our hearts. These are the ones who have hurt us or disappointed us, or whom we have hurt or disappointed. These are the people and broken relationships that we can’t bring ourselves to talk about or reconcile or heal.
Do we dare to gather them up – at least one or two of spice-wrapped people or relationships – and bring them with us to Easter Sunday worship? Is it possible that this Easter Sunday we will be so shocked, so surprised, so overwhelmed by the good news of Christ risen that we will allow the bags we’ve so carefully wrapped around our broken relationships to be torn open and replaced with reconciliation or healing?
None of the gospel writers mentions the women’s spices once they hear that Jesus is risen. It’s as if the spices and their burst bags are left on the floor of the tomb as the women run back into the world carrying the lighter load of awe and joy and a life-changing story to live into and tell.
What will you take with you from Easter Sunday worship? I pray that you will be taken by and will take with you hope, healing, and new beginnings. I pray that you will meet and be carried back into your daily life by the awe and joy of resurrection life. It might not happen finally and fully this particular Easter morning. But I trust that you will find your grip on those bags loosened, if just a bit. You will receive a foretaste, a sign, a glimmer of hope and healing and the joy and freedom of new life in the risen Christ.
So, dear sister, dear brother, gather up those spice bags and all those people you’ve wrapped in them. Tuck them into your pastel purse, clip them to your Easter bunny tie. Bring them along to worship Easter Sunday…and every Sunday. Look for the crucified and risen Jesus to surprise you just enough that you find your grip loosened. Then leave the bags on the floor of the tomb and go. Go in awe and joy. And with that lighter load, run and tell others the good news: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
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Table Scraps by William O. Gafkjen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.