An Easter Message From the Dean
By The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III
On the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary Magdalene comes early to the tomb, a woman come to mourn the death of a beloved one. When she arrives, the stone covering the entrance to the tomb is rolled away and she sees that Jesus’ body is gone. Two angels are in the tomb and they shoo her away, so her search continues. And then the surprise: Jesus finds her.
In coming to the tomb, Mary began by looking to the past to find Jesus. We, like Mary can look to the past to find Jesus, but all we will find are footprints of where Jesus has been. Mary tries again to cling to the Jesus of memory and affection. But she, and we, will not find Jesus there.
The living Christ is in the present of your life. Just ask Paul as he sets off for Damascus, eager to persecute the Church of God. Or ask Mary as she goes weeping to the garden and thinks she has found the gardener. Or ask the disciples, fearful in a room with windows shut and hearts locked for fear.
The Gospel Easter message is that the past cannot be changed – but it can be redeemed. Nor can we flee into the unknown future of Jesus’ return – but hope and courage can grow there. We can give thanks for the past (or ask for forgiveness) and we can grow stronger in faith as trust in the promises of Jesus’ resurrection takes root in our life.
So Mary Magdalene’s question that Easter morning becomes our Easter question: where do I look for Jesus? Start wherever you are. If you look around you, you will find him in the joys and sorrows of your life and your loved ones, ready to celebrate or comfort you. You will find him in the everydayness of life, in the valleys and on the peaks. You will find him on the street in the outstretched hand of the beggar. You will find him in the line at a soup kitchen. You will find him in the suffering of George Floyd, or the Asian woman randomly attacked in the subway, or the migrant children fleeing across the border without their parents. And when the risen Jesus reveals himself to you in the person of your neighbor, then your service of Jesus has begun, and you find a resurrection life.
You just have to know where to look for him: start wherever you are. Don’t worry about finding Jesus; Jesus will find you.
And be ready for surprises.