I imagine that the first Easter morning was like those we often experience here on the East End. A bit chilly, a little damp, some fog hugging the ground. A sense of mystery hanging in the air. And into that dark stillness comes Mary Magdalene, a devoted follower of Jesus.
Can you see her on the way to the tomb where Jesus was buried? I wonder if she was running, or walking slowly as each wave of sorrow heaved through her body? I imagine the wet grass clinging to her feet and sandals, the misty air dampening her cloak and head wrap.
Some of the Gospels say she came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus for burial. What a mix of emotions she must have carried: intense sorrow, grief, fear, and probably a lot of questions. There must have been so many questions swirling in her head. Why did this have to happen? Why now? What am I to do? Where am I to go? Am I safe?
Today — 2,000 years later — we have a clear advantage over Mary Magdalene and the rest of Jesus’ disciples because we know how the story ends. Or maybe, what we really know is that the empty tomb is not the end of the story. Mary Magdalene discovers hope and promise in the Risen Christ. Jesus who was dead, has been resurrected — just as he promised. Christ is risen! New life is possible.
This is indeed fantastic news for all of the world, for all who strive to follow Jesus! But my training as a journalist won’t let me give up so easily on those questions in Mary’s head.
Most of us do not arrive at Easter morning wracked with Mary’s grief and sorrow. In fact, Easter is intended as a time of joy and celebration. But just below the rejoicing and shouts of alleluia, the questions that keep us up at night still remain. We’re still searching, seeking, hoping, praying.
Why did this have to happen? Why now? What am I to do? Where am I to go? Am I safe?
Jesus, too, has questions and doubts in his final days. Jesus’ own journey across what we now refer to as Holy Week takes many of the same ups and downs that we face in our own lives. There are moments of love and joy, caring times with family and friends, and bouts of anger, struggle, extreme pain and submission. But in the end, he leaves his life in the hands of God the Father.
Easter is not about suddenly finding all the answers to life’s questions, but discovering that Christ does indeed live, and will walk with us through the messiness of life. We don’t go it alone. We can trust that God is holding out a hand to offer us a new beginning. We can surrender all our questions, doubts and fears to God, and then listen closely for the guiding answers.
On Easter Sunday, I encourage you to find a faith community of your choosing, and bring along all your doubts and questions as Mary Magdalene did so long ago. Her life was transformed that day by the presence of the Risen Christ. May you, too, feel the love and grace of the living Christ on Easter morning — whether it be through the music and singing, the alleluias, the prayers, the scriptures, or in the fellowship of community.
Or join us on the beach at the end of Ocean Road in Bridgehampton for an at 7 a.m. There in the chill and the mist, we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection amid the splendor of God’s creation. Each day, the waves reshape the shoreline and deposit new treasures for us to discover. It is a forever changing landscape, just as our lives are forever changing. Life is renewed each day; resurrection occurs every day. Life is transformed each day because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God — Christ is risen!
The Rev. Joanne S. Utley is pastor of .