Not too many years ago author Robert Fulghum claimed in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten that by the time we’re finished with that grade we have learned what is most important for life. From then on, life is just a matter of remembering.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that many women went to the tomb on the first day of the week, forgetting what Jesus had said about his dying and rising. At early dawn they went to put spices on Jesus’ body. But when they arrived, the stone at the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away, and they couldn't find the body. Yet they still didn’t remember. They became perplexed, wondering who had taken the body.
Suddenly, two men in dazzling clothes appeared before them, asking a question that didn’t need to be asked if the women had remembered: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that he must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified and on the third day rise again?”
Remember? Ah, yes, they finally remembered his words. And upon remembering they returned from the tomb, telling all the other disciples the news they had received.
The disciples, too, must have forgotten what Jesus had said. As has been the case throughout much of human history, the men didn’t believe the women. For the men, the women’s words were but an “idle tale.”
Easter is really about remembering. “Remember?” the two men in dazzling clothes asked the women. Remember what Jesus said? Jesus told you that he would die and would be raised on the third day. His words aren’t empty. They have effect. Remember them! Remember them not to give an intellectual nod to some past event. Remember them so your present is changed.
Remember them when burdens are too big to bear. Remember them when grief is overwhelming. Remember them when hope seems so far away. Remember them when darkness does not seem to want to turn to day. Remember them when you wonder if there is a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Remember them when you start to believe that what is, is only going to stay that way. Remember them when you wonder if our neighborhoods and communities must always be the way they are. Remember them when you look at your congregation and wonder if it will ever come alive fully. Remember them when political leaders seem lost in ideological self-interest and the country suffers. Remember them as you face death around and within you.
It’s not coincidental that Easter was originally a pagan festival celebrating spring and light. Spring seems to be nature’s way of celebrating that he is not here — he is risen. The new daffodils, the budding trees, the warming temperatures and all of nature remember that, just as he said, he is not here — he is risen.
It’s not an “idle tale.” Many of us probably learned it in kindergarten. But it still is the heart and soul of our faith. He is risen! That’s something worth remembering.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers