Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were perplexed by Easter when they found the stone had been rolled away from the tomb of Jesus. Luke tells us the reason that they were perplexed by Easter was because the resurrected reality they encountered at Jesus’ tomb was different from their expectations were different from the reality they encountered at Jesus’ tomb. Their expectation in going to the tomb of Jesus was defined by the fact they were carrying spices that they had prepared to anoint the body of the crucified Jesus. The resurrected reality they encountered was redefined by a fact they were not expecting, the fact that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb of Jesus.

Life is perplexing when we are presented with realities that are different from our expectations. It is when followers of Jesus encounter realities that are different than our expectations that we need to remember the Easter message that was proclaimed by the two heavenly messengers in Luke 24:5b-7:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”

“Remember how he told you.” In the Bible, remembering is an active participation in the present reality of God’s faithfulness. Remembering is not only an act of recalling the deeds of God’s faithfulness in the past. It is also an act of trusting in the promise of God’s faithfulness for the future. The act of remembering is a call for followers of Jesus to trust in the reality of the risen Jesus when we encounter resurrected realities that are beyond our expectations.

Rev. Carla Pratt Keyes tells of the time she heard Bryan Stevenson speak to the Richmond Forum. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer best known for his work with Black men on death row as told in his book, Just Mercy. As part of his talk, Stevenson told a story connected to a memorial that’s part of the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama which I had the privilege of visiting several years ago. The memorial features jars of soil from places Black people were lynched. Their bodies never received a proper burial, but this soil contains their sweat and blood, as well as the tears of people who were segregated and humiliated at various times in U.S. history.

Stevenson told about a middle-aged Black woman who had gone to collect soil in a pretty remote location. When she got there, she felt anxious – dirt road, middle of nowhere. She found the place where the lynching had taken place, took her jar to the spot, and began to dig up the soil. A truck drove by … big white guy staring at her from the cab. A bit down the road, the truck slowed, stopped, turned around and drove back. The man parked his truck and walked toward her. Now she was really scared. What are you doing? he asked. She was thinking she would tell him she was just gathering dirt for a garden, but then something got ahold of her. She said, “I’m digging soil, because this is where a Black man was lynched in 1937 and I’m going to honor his life today.” The man saw a paper on the ground near the woman. He said, “Does that paper talk about the lynching? Could I read it?” And he did.

Then he shocked her by saying, “Excuse me, ma’am … Would it be all right if I helped you?” He got down on his knees next to her. She offered him the implement to dig the soil. He said, “No, no, I’ll just use my hands.” And he started to dig the earth with his hands. His hands became black with soil. There was something about the conviction with which he was digging that moved the woman, and a tear rolled down her face. He saw it and said, “I’m so sorry, I’m upsetting you!” She said, “No, no. You’re blessing me.” The man’s digging had slowed, and she realized he was crying, too. She asked if he was all right, and he said, “No ma’am. I’m just so worried it might have been my grandfather that helped to lynch this man.” They sat together just weeping. Then they finished filling the jar with soil. The man said, “I’d like to take a picture of you holding the jar.” She said the same, so they took pictures of one another. Then the man followed her back to the museum; they delivered the soil together.

If you are perplexed by Easter this morning, remember that God meets you in resurrected realities that are beyond your expectations.

If you are perplexed by Easter this morning, remember that the stone has been rolled away for Christ the Lord is risen. Christ the Lord is risen indeed.

Perplexed By Easter

by Pastor Marc Brown
March 31, 2024

Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 24:1-12

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for March 31, 2024

Scripture Lesson Luke 24:1-12

The Good News      “Perplexed By Easter”

Music                          “Alleluia, Alleluia” Hymn #162



Closing Music      “Redeemed” arr. Lloyd Larson

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