Ours is a world that has become pretty skilled at running away.
We are always running off to the next distraction…
…running away because the conversation has become uncomfortable or the relationship has become hard…
…running back to the good old days because we remember them as better or easier or safer.
There are always greener pastures, to which we feel the need to run.
Today, we read the story of several characters who have also become pretty skilled at running away. We have related again this Holy Week the running of the disciples:
The treachery of Judas, who abandoned Jesus when he didn’t live up to his expectations.
The betrayal of Peter, who disappeared when things got hard.
The silence of the rest of the apostles, who just ran.
Now, Easter has arrived, and the disciples it seems have not stopped running. As soon as Peter and the unnamed disciple hear of the empty tomb, they are off to the races. Sprinting to the tomb, they take turns arriving and looking in. Confused, bewildered, they run away again. Off because of fear of the religious officials. Off because they aren’t sure what else to do.
But the Easter story is not just a story of those who run off. It is a story of those who stayed.
On Good Friday, it was the women who stayed. The men had run away, scattered out of fear. But the women stayed, grieved, waited.
And now, at the tomb, Peter and the disciple who Jesus loved are gone again. But Mary remains. Quietly weeping by the garden tomb.
One of the many lessons that Easter teaches is that the ones who stay see the Lord!
The ones who stay and watch.
The ones who stay and listen.
The ones who stay and pray.
The ones who stay and stand with those in need.
The ones who stay and struggle, even when the struggle is hard.
The ones who stay and weep, when weeping is the only thing that can be done.
The Gospel lesson is that Easter people stay!
Everyone else in the story is running – in fear, in confusion, in anxiety…
Until Mary stays.
“You have seen the empty tomb. I have seen the Lord.”
In a few minutes, we will all run away. We will go, because we must go.
There will be Easter breakfasts to eat.
There will be Easter brass to warm up.
There will be Easter hams to be cooked.
There will be Easter baptisteries to be filled.
And, eventually, there will be Easter naps to be taken.
But this Easter, may Mary remind us to stay. For those who stay will see the Lord.
It is in John’s Gospel that provides us with the beautiful words, “Abide in me…..” What a powerful concept that teaches us that even in our coming and going, we can and must stay in the Lord!
God is at work in our world, but if we are see that work, we must stay. We must open our eyes. Listen for the voice of the Holy. And we must stay.
This morning, let us be an Easter people. A people who stay.