Our new InScribe anthology, Easter Stories and More, is to be released this month. (Tracy Krauss will give us further information in this blog in a few days. Also check here for details). In keeping with this theme, our bloggers this month will write on various inspirational Easter themes —devotionals, poems, personal essays, and more.
Join us as we begin.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
It was still dark, before 6 am, that late March morning when our church group met in the Nose Hill Park in Calgary for our Easter Sunrise Service. Volunteers directed us with their flashlights to our parking spaces, and then we walked, guided by more volunteers with flashlights, to our worship spot overlooking the city and airport. Still in darkness, we set up our lawn chairs and covered ourselves with blankets.
We had come, not like the women to honour the dead Jesus, but to worship the living Christ. As the service began, I thought back to my visit to Israel’s Garden Tomb just outside Jerusalem, a site which commemorates Jesus’ resurrection.
At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb. They laid Jesus there.
As our tour group, led by our pastor, quietly entered the garden, I felt deeply its calmness and serenity. The fragrance of roses wafted through the air and birds chirped and flitted through the trees as our hosts led us to our seating area. Just to our right was an empty tomb.
While this site may not have been where Jesus was buried, it does fit with the description in the Gospels.
Our pastor led us in worship, encouraging us to look back and remember how Christ gave his life for us. We were to look within and ask if our relationship was right with the Lord and with others.
The angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Following our devotional time and communion service, I explored the area where the stone would have been. It was appropriate that this site didn’t have a stone. However, I noted a trench built in front that was used to guide the massive stone into place. For an angel to roll away an estimated two-tonne stone reminded me of God’s great power.
The angel said, “He is not here. He has risen, just as He said.”
I walked into the tomb to where Jesus might have been laid. It was empty, just as the angels said, because Jesus had been miraculously raised to life. The first chamber was called the weeping chamber, where the body could be embalmed and wrapped in grave clothes and where mourners could gather. The inner burial chamber contained shelves where two bodies would have been laid.
I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.
Naturally, our site didn’t have grave clothes. However, I was reminded that Christ left the grave clothes behind—the linen strips lay in one place as if someone had evaporated out of them, and the head cloth was rolled up by itself. I can just picture Jesus, newly come to life, folding the head cloth, as a very meditated act—death had been neatly put away.
And folding the napkin had a symbolic meaning for the Jews. When the dinner host got up from the table to attend to a task, he neatly folded the napkin to show the servants that he would be back. Jesus will come back for us one day.
Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe!”
Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
I left the scene with a prayer: Jesus, the risen Christ, we have not seen you with our natural eyes, but you have given us spiritual eyes to see you. I want to worship you with all my heart and mind.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!