Tag Archives: Waiting

Jesus Christ is risen! – Is he?

Leader: Jesus Christ is Risen!

Response: Is he?

Leader: He is Risen Indeed!

Response: Is he really?

Leader: Alleluia!

Response: I thought he was dead?


After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Matthew 28:1, NRSV

As Jesus was crucified Matthew tells us that many women who had been following and providing for Jesus looked on from a distance (Matt 27:55). Two days later, under the dim light of dawn some of them head towards the tomb.

These women were grief stricken, devastated, broken-hearted – having watched the one they’d followed and provided for taken from then, beaten, mocked and killed. And not just killed, but killed under the painful cruelty of crucifixion.

I wonder if those women felt lost, no longer having Jesus to follow and learn from. I wonder if they felt as if they’d lost a sense of purpose, their vocation of providing for Jesus so brutally taken from them. I wonder how they felt now that Jesus was no longer alive. The one who had shown acceptance, compassion and love to these women was gone. I wonder how they felt, with the prospect that they may never be accepted and loved by someone else in that way again.

As they approach the tomb, they expect the stone to be there, sealing Jesus’ body in. They perhaps expect the guards to be there. What they don’t expect, is for the earth to tremble and shake and an angel appear before them, in bright light and dazzling white and roll the stone away – and then take a seat (Matthew 28:2-3).

Matthew’s storytelling makes me smile. All that drama – light, earthquake, stone rolled away – and then what does the angel do? They sit down. Just needs a pot of tea and scones for a truly English picnic (with proper social distancing of course!).

But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’

Matthew 28:5-7, NRSV

In that moment, I wonder what those women felt. Joy or terror? Hope or disbelief? Maybe they did accept the angels invitation and look into the tomb and see it was empty. But did they believe the impossible could have happened? Did they believe this dazzling angel – sat on a stone – was telling the truth?

With both fear and joy they head towards the disciples to tell them. Joy that the angel could be telling the truth. Fear that the angel could indeed not be an angel, in which case what has really happened to Jesus? Was Jesus risen? Was this resurrection thing true?

Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

Matthew 28:9-10, NRSV

The women’s doubts dispelled, they can race on. Joy in their hearts – Jesus really is alive. How? Why? When? None of that matters. They have a message to deliver, there is hope in their hearts – Jesus is alive!

But that’s not the only tale that goes on to be told. The guards, they’ve already headed off to the authorities to report, and another story is soon devised to explain the unexpected events – blame the disciples, say they came in the night and took the body (28:11-13).

And for Matthew’s story (which like Mark, has very little resurrection story to tell compared with Luke and John), even when the other disciples do see Jesus and worship him some still doubt. Could this resurrection thing really be true? And what does it really mean for the future?

When we travel through Lent, and then Holy Week, Easter Sunday is often the end point, the climax, the destination. It’s the place we know we’re going to get to at the end of the pain and suffering. And generally, as soon as dawn breaks – where there.

But for the disciples, for 1st Century Palestine, it’s wasn’t so cut and dried. Resurrection wasn’t such a given. There was doubt, uncertainty and fear. There were multiple stories and little resource to tell the difference between them.

It took time for the resurrection story to spread across society.
It took time for the resurrection to be believed.
It took time for Jesus friends to experience the resurrection for themselves.

For Jesus’ first followers, and for 1st Century Palestine, the Resurrection was not a one day event. It didn’t arrive for the whole of society as dawn broke, but took time to be known, experienced and believed – if indeed it was believed at all.

We know the truth of the resurrection. We live the truth. Jesus Christ is Risen – He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Due to Covid-19, there is an inevitability that for many of us, while knowing the truth, Easter Sunday will feel odd, different & strange. It may be hard to hold onto the truth in the isolated living we currently experience.

I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that rather than a one day even, Easter is a period – a season – which takes us from today all the way to Pentecost (this year 31st May). A season of entering into the new of the resurrection, where the discovery of the hope of new life is allowed time to be fully known, realised and experienced.

Perhaps this year we experience the resurrection more like Jesus’ first followers did, and more like the Easter season invites us, not as the dawning of a one day event, but one that takes time for us to fully realise. One where we embrace the wonderful and life changing truth of the resurrection of Christ, the truth that sets us free, while waiting to discover the full impact of the resurrection to come.

No gathering to worship in church buildings and singing Thine be the glory with organ at full blast. They remain as empty as the tomb. Waiting. For those who are used to it, no Easter Sunday communion – today the plate and cup remain as empty as the tomb. Waiting.

They wait, and we wait, for when our resurrection from lockdown comes.

Waiting to discover afresh resurrection’s impact.

All the while knowing the truth which sets us free.

Jesus Christ is Risen – He is Risen indeed – Alleluia!

Join the conversation

if you’ve got thoughts or something to share after reading and reflecting on my thoughts, you can comment below and share them with us all – I’d love to hear from you.

Downloadable Version

Gifted Time, Patient Hope and the Resurrection to come

Have you all remembered to spring your clocks forwards this morning? On more than one occasion I’ve led worship on the last Sunday of March and towards the end of the service someone has turned up looking embarrassed, having forgotten to change the clocks and ending up running an hour behind the rest of the world.

There’s no chance of us turning up to church an hour late today though, and what we do and when is largely our own business at the moment. Many of us are spending our days differently to how we usually would as we embrace and settle into what our new and temporary ‘normal’ is going to be.

I’ve spent the week using technology differently to normal, done a shift at the foodbank for the first time, made lots of phone calls and have even managed to clear 1 of the many piles of ‘stuff’ that have been collecting in my office over the last 12 months.

How we spend our time can be important at the best of times. What we do impacts us and can impact others, positively or negatively. This week the question of ‘what does a minister do now?’ has not been far from my mind as I discern how best to minister in church and community when we are distant and isolated from one another. I am sure I am not alone as I grapple with that question of how best to use my time?

How best do we use our time today?

In today’s gospel reading (John 11:1-45), people don’t think Jesus gets his timing right. On day 1 of the story, Jesus gets the message that Lazarus is ill. Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to come to them, but Jesus doesn’t. He waits, continues in the place he was, doing whatever he had been doing. 2 days later, he says to his disciples, let’s go, let’s head to Bethany.

But to Martha at least, Jesus is late. He got his timing wrong, took too long dilly-dallying and now Lazarus is dead. Yet in the midst of the grief and emotion she was experiencing, Martha is faithful and hopeful:

Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’

John 11:21-22

As the story goes on, they head to the tomb, Mary joins them, and Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away, and call’s to Lazarus ‘come out’, and out comes Lazarus.

Death leads to life.
Waiting leads to still holds possibility.
Hope leads to resurrection.

As ever with John’s gospel there is so much that could be said of this passage, but I wonder today, in this period of isolation and distance in our world, if we have something to gain from reflecting on Jesus’ use of time.

Jesus doesn’t rush to Lazarus, Martha and Mary – despite how deep John’s gospel portrays their friendship. He pauses, takes time and continues what he was doing. Only then, after he had taken time, did he go.

And by then all must have seemed lost to the community in Bethany, because Lazarus was no longer ill. He was dead, hope was gone, death had won. But then Jesus came. But then Resurrection came.

‘I am the resurrection and the life.’

(John 11:25)

We live, ‘normally’ in a fast paced society. Where waiting and patience are not always normative to us. Where we expect to find the food we want to buy on the shelves when we go shopping. When we sometimes expect leaders, medics and governments to have all the answers. When, as pragmatic people of faith who know faith necessities action, we want act, do and somehow respond with pace to make a difference in times of adversity and challenge.

But what I’m struck by is that Jesus doesn’t respond quickly. He continues what he was doing, and then, after time, heads to Bethany. By then, by all accounts all hope was lost – but it was only then, when death had seemingly won, that resurrection truly came, when hope became a true reality.

As we live in this period of distancing, waiting for the resurrection that will one day come, knowing the world is ill but being powerless to do anything about it except stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, we have a gift of time.

We are in a time of waiting, this time will pass and resurrection will come, but this time is also a time in itself to use well. For ourselves, for others, for our relationship with God. An extended time of Sabbath Rest perhaps? So I encourage you, this week, to think about how you will use this time.

Take time to Pause
Take time to finish things.
Take time to spend with God as you need do
Take time to prepare for the resurrection to come

There’s a poem that was on a poster I had in my bedroom as a teenager. I can’t find it now, I guess it went in one of our house moves. There seem to be various versions of it online, and I can’t find it’s original author, but I leave it with you to read, reflect, pray through and allow the Spirit to guide you with, as we take this gift of time we have and seek to use it well, with patient hope, knowing resurrection is to come.

Take time to think:
it is the source of power.

Take time to read;
it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play;
it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet;
it is the opportunity to see God.

Take time to be aware;
it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved;
it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh;
it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly;
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream;
it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray;
it is the greatest power on earth.

Author Unknown

Join the conversation

if you’ve got thoughts or something to share after reading and reflecting on my thoughts, you can comment below and share them with us all – I’d love to hear from you.