An empty tomb. A gateway to resurrection life!
Two thousand years ago, a Galilean man — a miracle worker, a powerful preacher, a compassionate healer, a kind-hearted man — went through the ordeal of a trial. This man Jesus was rejected by elders, priests and teachers, who were the authorities of his time. Then, he was condemned to the most shameful death penalty possible at that time. He died on the Cross.
On Good Friday, we remember this saddest day.
According to John’s gospel, Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus, found the empty tomb on the third day after his death. Jesus was no longer with the dead.
This empty tomb has become one of the most vivid signs of the central message of Easter!
The empty tomb, the absence of Jesus’ body and the sheer nothingness, frightened Mary Magdalene and the other disciples. Despite Jesus’ own words, they did not expect to find the empty tomb. Even today, many Christians live as though they expect to find the body of Jesus in the tomb — rather than going out to find the risen Christ. Sometimes, we all need to remind ourselves we are invited to move forward into a new life with the risen Christ, which death and human despair cannot overrule.
During the past two months I have been busy joining in various occasions and attending many meetings in our Synod. In some places, I was with people sighing over declining Church membership, feeling frightened and weak like those who found the empty tomb. In many other places, though, people were excited and motivated to move out of the empty tomb and live the resurrection life with the risen Lord!
In January, I went to a small suburban church in the Newcastle area for a ‘Girls Night Out’. This program was started by one lady, about five years ago, to provide a women’s get-together for sharing friendship and encouraging each other with amazing Bible quotations. They women in this get-together also are ‘good Samaritans’, for people in need near and far. This program connects past and present members of the Church, women from other denominations and others recently moved to the area. They are united by a renewing experience and a shared sense of new life, stemming from the Risen Lord!
When I went to Dubbo for a Rural Presbyteries meeting, I took a quick side visit to Wellington. In stark contrast to Dubbo, the main regional city, Wellington is a declining country town where the community facilities and services are shutting down and the township is visibly diminishing.
But one place was resisting that general negative trend. It was one of Uniting Aboriginal Island Christian Congress’ Churches! Although the main Church building was condemned long ago as unsafe, the Congregation’s members and minister have begun
They hope to be able to reopen the Church for worship! The door of the building has been locked for years but the Spirit of the Risen Christ has opened the hearts of that UAICC Congregation, calling them to witness to the glory of resurrection life! Hallelujah!
Beloved friends in Christ, the Easter story calls us to rejoice again in the declaration of God’s offer of redemption for the whole of creation. The empty tomb was a symbol of the ongoing presence of Christ for Mary Magdalene and the other disciples.
For us, it is a godly reminder of His transforming Spirit, which enables us to move on beyond death and despair.
May the Risen Christ’s spirit be with you this Easter season.
Rev. Myung Hwa Park, Moderator
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