A reflection given at Colonial Church as a part of the Good Friday Service on April 10, 2020. You can listen below.
Or, you can watch the whole service on YouTube.
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.
– Mark 15:40-47
As we finish out the readings from Mark 15, we are brought into a place that is both similar and dissimilar to our current moment. Of course, the situation is different in many ways. We have not seen Jesus walk in flesh. We have not come from far and wide, waiting at the tomb wondering if he will rise. Yet in many other ways, aspects of our story are the same.
We are told that at this moment in the text, the women who have followed Jesus are at a distance. And how like them are we, a people who with bated breath, are watching from our homes, wondering what will happen, longing for the days when we could do things…like go to dinner at a restaurant or actually hug our neighbors (maybe even ones we’ve never hugged before).
And how many of us are like Joseph of Arimathea, respected members of our communities who are awaiting the coming kingdom of God, looking and longing for it? And how many of our leaders are asking questions about life and death, looking to doctors and scientists to help us understand something that doesn’t make sense?
And so here on this night, thousands of years removed from the story of these people who journeyed with Jesus, we ourselves are likewise journeying with Jesus.
Whether watching from afar, whether looking for the kingdom of God, whether asking questions of where and how long and what is next…we are a people who, like these friends of old, look to the place where Jesus’ body was and is laid again… longing and praying and working for resurrection life.
So let us not forget where this Jesus lives and resides. Let us not forget about the bodies of our neighbors who are even refrigerated awaiting their own burial in our time.1
Let us remember.
And let us then long for the morning when Jesus indeed does and will rise again.
And in that space, we join with Jesus and all of our neighbors in proclaiming and living that resurrection life, coming out from the shadows and from our homes, not only looking and longing for the kingdom of God, but being bringers of it.
Oh, Jesus, on this night, we look for you and we remember.
- This was a reality during the earliest days of COVID in New York City. See, for instance: Jeremy Rose, “As an ER Doctor, I Fear Our Era’s Defining Symbol Will be the Refrigerator Truck,” Washington Post (April 11, 2020). Accessed online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/04/11/refrigerated-truck-morgue-coronavirus/.