By Shelley Walters
Trinity Church of Austin, Director of Community Life
Seeing Beyond Our Expectations
As I prepare for Easter Sunday each year, several things come to mind. Knowing we’ll decorate the cross with flowers, I make sure to find fresh blooms to share. I expect we’ll sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” with the smell of lilies filling the sanctuary. I look forward to saying “Alleluia” with renewed gusto! Even now, I can envision the group of ladies who always wear fun and fancy Easter hats, and I can almost hear them ask why I have let another Easter morning go by without purchasing my own hat.
But I wonder what expectations were held that first Easter morning.
Even before the sun had risen - after the Sabbath day had passed - Mary Magdalene journeyed to Jesus’ tomb. Before she left home, I wonder if she collected all the oils she owned, expecting to use every drop in anointing the body of her beloved teacher.
She must have walked slowly to the tomb, exhausted from the previous days - the smell of spices trailing behind her. Did she have a plan for moving the heavy stone away by herself? Did she expect to find guards there - or friends?
When she saw the stone had been rolled away, she might have nearly dropped her oil jars before she ran to get Peter and John. As they hurried to the tomb, did they foresee a confrontation with Roman guards?
As Mary sat alone and wept with warm tears running down her face, did she expect that all Jesus had taught them was now lost? I wonder if she recalled Jesus’ words when they had shared bread and wine together.
When she turned and saw him, yet did not see that it was Jesus, was it merely her vision clouded by tears that kept her from recognizing him? Or was it her expectations – so far from the hope of resurrection – that blinded her to understanding that the glory of the risen Christ shone before her very eyes?
Of all the possible expectations that first Easter day, surely Mary Magdalene did not wake up that morning thinking she would speak to Jesus, let alone be the first to preach the good news that Christ had risen!
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, thank you for being beyond all that we can expect. Open my eyes that I may see anew the resurrection hope you bring. In Christ’s name, Alleluia, Amen.
1. What was a “seeing” moment that has shifted your own understanding?
2. When have your expectations gotten in the way of seeing something?
3. How have you witnessed the resurrecting hope of Christ in the world?