Guest Outpost blog by Stephen McKinney-Whitaker
We don’t meet the risen Jesus in Mark. The women flee in terror and dread.
Jesus doesn’t meet us at the empty tomb on Easter Sunday or on the road as we share the good news. We have only the word of a young man in a white robe that Jesus is raised. But that word is exactly true. We have Jesus’ word. He told us three times he would be raised from the dead. Jesus is going ahead of us to Galilee, just as he said.
I love Easter Sunday. I love getting up early and singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!” as the sun rises above the horizon. I am filled with joy as children place white flowers on an empty cross and the sanctuary rings with the triumphant sounds of brass and tympani proclaiming: “Thine is the Glory!”
But sometimes I don’t see Jesus in those services. I know he’s there, but I don’t see him. Perhaps I’m too distracted by orchestrating the service and making sure I have the biblical story memorized for retelling. Maybe I’m so focused on proclaiming a powerful, Jesus-filled message to the people I know won’t return to church until Christmas that I miss seeing Jesus.
I get up very early on the first day of the week just after sunrise, but I don’t see Jesus. I go and tell the good news to Jesus’ followers, but I still don’t see Jesus. Mark tells me that’s okay: Jesus is going ahead of me to Galilee. I will see him there.
Jesus meets us in the Galilees of our lives. Not just at empty tombs on Sunday mornings. Not just churches filled with the organ swell of triumphant hymns. Not just in contemplative prayer or mission work or evangelism or any in those holy places and activities where we expect to see Jesus. Jesus meets us in Galilee. He meets us in our hometowns doing the things we’ve always done. He meets us at work, at home, at play.
That’s the best news of Eastertide. Jesus doesn’t meet us only on Easter morning. Jesus doesn’t wait for us in church. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to go and proclaim the Good News to make himself known to us. Jesus meets us where we are. The Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us still lives among us. He still comes to be with us in Galilee where we fish and work and cry and laugh and live. We don’t come to Jesus. Jesus comes to us.
Perhaps you saw Jesus in a beautiful Easter morning service. I hope so. But maybe you saw only the evidence of the risen Lord. You saw the empty tomb and the place where he was laid. You saw a flowered cross and filled pews in the sanctuary, but you didn’t see Jesus. You worshipped him and you thanked him, but if in all the fanfare and lilies and pretty dresses and chocolate bunnies you missed seeing Jesus, you are not alone.
Mark didn’t see Jesus on Easter morning either. But somewhere, somehow, Mark saw the risen Jesus. Maybe Mark saw him in Galilee. Maybe you will, too.
Sometime in these 50 days of Eastertide you will see him – perhaps when you least expect it, but when you need him most.
You will see Jesus as you care for your child, reading the same book for the hundredth time. You will see Jesus at school when everyone else has gone home, but you still need to prepare lesson plans for the substitute. You will see Jesus while you crunch numbers to balance the books, when you deliver the pizza or make the big staffing decision. You will see Jesus as you visit your friend or sit down at a table to share a meal with your family. These, too, are holy times and places, and Jesus meets us then and there.
Easter Sunday is over. Christ the Lord is risen, but we are still called to follow to Galilee.
And we will see him there, just as he promised.
Stephen McKinney-Whitaker is pastor and head of staff and United Presbyterian Church of Peoria, Illinois.