By Pastor Mark Docken
Chatfield Lutheran Church
Root Prairie Lutherand Church
Even though we are well beyond Easter Sunday, there are some of us who are still at Good Friday. All the fanfare of Easter felt like just another entertainment show, because in the depths of your soul you’re not buying it. Like Mary, you came just to anoint the body. She walked to the tomb from a distance; her sandal shuffling along the stone steps. She’s empty.
Maybe you feel like Mary because of the loss of a loved one, a job, or a relationship. The numbness of losing that childlike faith that once believed, but now seems like so much empty ritual leaves you empty. Maybe your social life seems empty. Where once you did more than just say we ought to get together, now visits are crowded out by pandemic or busy schedules. Maybe you feel an emptiness because the future seems to hold little promise or at least no direction. We’ve suffered so much loss of all that is good. We’re empty, empty.
But what is really empty at Easter is the tomb. So maybe we need to peer into the emptiness. Take a look around at the emptiness to learn a profound truth. In God, emptiness is creative potential.
Emptiness in God in not nothingness, but instead a prelude to new creation. For God creates out of nothing.
We all know the painting by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome, where the hand of God reaches toward the hand of Adam. Despite the beauty of the figures, our eye is drawn to the emptiness between God’s finger and Adam’s finger. We sense that it is in the empty space where creation happens.
It’s in the empty tomb where God works the fullness of new creation. It’s in the emptiness of life, where it seems death or loss has devastated all, that God nonetheless works new life. “I thought my heart was broken, but it was really broken open.”
When we suffer a devastating loss, as Mary suffered in the crucifixion of Jesus, we cannot imagine God’s capacity to transcend life’s endings. When Mary first discovers that the body of Jesus has disappeared, she does not think God has found a way to bridge the great divide of death.
That may be where you still are today, unable to imagine who God can transcend life’s endings. Let Easter begin for you not with alleluias, but with an invitation to explore the emptiness and to trust. Trust that Jesus steps into the emptiness of our lives and plants the seeds of new creation, of new life, and new hope. The emptiness is not pushed aside, just as the Risen Lord still bore the wounds of the cross. The wait will be longer than three days.