Meet Me At the Tomb: An Easter Meditation
Sometimes mundane things catch my attention in odd ways. I was laughing with a colleague about the fire warning instructions on our floor at The Interchurch Center in New York City. In the event of an evacuation, we are instructed to meet at Grant’s Tomb, not far from where the main office is located, to confirm that all of us are accounted for. It struck me odd that in the event of an emergency, it was “meet me at the tomb”—one more sobering part of what would no doubt be a sobering experience. She replied with a United Methodist Women version of “that will preach”—one of those “ah-ha” moments!
Now, looking ahead to Easter, we say “meet me at the tomb” with quite a different inflection than we would during a fire emergency in a building. Indeed, for Christians, the grave is really not the foreboding place of Halloween pranks and childhood fears. For us, while it may be a place of sadness, it is also a reminder of God’s amazing love for us—so much love that Jesus became human to love us “in person.”
In the setting of the Easter story, I can imagine the three women making their plans: “Meet me at the tomb and we’ll finish caring for Jesus’ body.” Or Peter and John, racing to confirm the women’s story, “I can’t wait for you! Meet me at the tomb!”
Those five disciples no doubt brought an array of emotions when they approached the tomb that Easter morning. They may have been filled with pain or denial or anger or one of the other aspects of grief when they said, “Meet me at the tomb.” We, however, know that the tomb is empty. Christ is risen. His suffering and the indignity of his death was not the final word. God had the final word by raising Christ from the dead.
And not only that, on this day, in the Easter season from now until Ascension (and, indeed, on every Sunday throughout the year) we celebrate that God raised Christ, and we have hope because we know God will have the final word in our lives and in the life of all of creation as well.
In the Epistle reading for today, Paul reminds the believers in Colossae, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We lose our lives to save them, in that great mystery in which death and life are eternally connected. We are invited to choose to walk in the life that Christ offers, the life that is hidden, protected, stored up in God—defying the law of supply and demand, available to all and abundant and at the same time, worth giving up all the earthly benefits we cling to so instinctively.
So, meet me at the tomb, indeed! Join with me in setting our minds on the things that are above, as Paul also instructs the believers. Work with me for the thriving of women, children and youth around the world. Pray with me for the physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of our United Methodist Women sisters. Rejoice with me over every person who is loosed from physical, mental or spiritual bonds who will also meet us at the tomb. Stand up with me for marginalized folks who cannot stand up for themselves. Meet me at the tomb! Meet me at the tomb, indeed!
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, indeed!
Harriett Jane Olson is the deputy general secretary of the Women's Division.