Nearly every year, I find myself standing with a bunch of other parents partaking in a familiar Easter ritual—the Easter egg hunt. We wait while the children are split into age groups and then for the organizers to give the signal that starts the search. It got me to thinking about my older daughter’s first egg hunt, in our neighborhood park, at least fifteen years ago.
At that Easter egg hunt, my husband knelt down beside her before the hunt to coach her on the best way to find Easter eggs. He’s an engineer and he’s all about strategy. I listened as he laid out the plan. First, he told her, when the signal is given, you run as fast as you can to the farthest end of egg hunting field… and keep your eyes open for bits of color. That way you’ll know where to look for the eggs. As I listened to this wisdom, I found myself needing to chime in. “And remember to help the littler kids if they are having trouble finding an egg. Don’t worry, there’s plenty for everyone…”
At the end, our daughter listened to all of our advice and had a basketful of colorful eggs. Meanwhile, I had had the pleasure of watching her pick up and dust off one of her small compatriots and hand over some of her own eggs to cheer up the little one who had fallen down and lost all of her prizes in the shuffle.
Egg hunts… Maybe it seems like a funny thing to be talking about. Today, we celebrate the most glorious and profound gift that has ever been given. Today, we celebrate that Christ overcame death and the grave. Today, we celebrate that Jesus came back to us and appeared to us. Today, we celebrate Easter.
But is Easter really so different than an egg hunt? Today, we celebrate joyful surprises and amazing miracles. Today, we celebrate things being more than they seem. Today, we celebrate for looking for and finding holiness right where we are.
The familiar Gospel reading (John 20:1-18) is full of glints of the great Easter gift, like Easter eggs hiding in the grass, even before we see the face of Jesus. All we have to do is learn to hunt for these colorful hints of Easter while we listen to the story and then crack them open for the deeper message that lies within.
First, we see the blue-gray of the stone that has been rolled away from the tomb. This is the discovery of Mary Magdalene, the first disciple of Jesus, who draws near to tomb and realizes that things are not as they were. The dark and heavy stone, a symbol of death and endings, has been transformed to become a reminder that nothing is impossible with God. We look at the tomb now and understand that we need not fear death because it is not the end of the story, but instead the beginning of something even greater.
Next, we see a glimmer of white, the bright white of the linen cloths that wrapped the body of Jesus as he was laid in the tomb. This pile of cloth was the Easter surprise found by Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved. The two disciples, both the one who denied him three times and the one who remained faithful, are invited to share in the story, to witness the miracle. These disciples believed at first that Jesus’ body had been stolen, but those cloths were proof that Christ had risen. Why? Because a thief would not have unwrapped the body before he took it away. The linen wrappings remind us, whether we have been faithful or have stumbled in our relationship with Christ, that even those things that seem discarded are reminders of Jesus’ presence in the world.
Then, along with Mary, we catch a glimpse of bright yellow. In a bright and holy light, we encounter two angels in the tomb. These heavenly beings do not offer answers or reassurances, but instead ask questions. Why are you weeping? The message and the gift in this moment is a reminder that God continues to speak to us, not always with loud proclamations, but sometimes in whispers and questions. God is always speaking to us.
Finally, we see a glimpse of gold. As Mary turns, she looks into eyes that are both foreign and familiar and again Mary hears questions—Why are you weeping? Who are you looking for? And then Jesus calls her by name, and her eyes and heart are opened and she knows him. This is are reminder that God knows each of us, calls us by name and then sends us out with the joyful message: “I have seen the Lord!”
Today, it is easy to see the glorious gifts of Easter… They are spread thickly in front of us. Tomorrow, however, our hunt for Easter must continue as we go out into the world, and not just tomorrow but each and every day. We are sent forth into the world in search for these Easter gifts.
Continue to look for the empty tombs, the reminders that death is not the end of the story. Look for the Kingdom of God in worldly places, places that may seem very far removed from church perhaps. I suspect that we will stumble upon Easter in our offices, in the grocery store, in our schools, at the train station, as we stop to buy our morning coffee or put gas into our cars. We can find the light and the life promised by Christ wherever we are.
Continue to look for the linen wrappings, the reminder that Christ’s presence is heralded by that which has been discarded and left behind. Look for the kingdom of God among those who are in the greatest need, those who are without families, without homes, without jobs, without hope… Find these people and work to heal these situations and Christ will be there.
Continue to look for angels asking questions and pointing us in new directions. In the days ahead, look for the people around you who ask the questions prompt you to see the world in new ways and to move toward God. Listen to the still small voice that comes in prayer and challenges you to try new things. Hear what God is saying to you.
Continue to look for the face of Christ himself, calling you by name and sending you out to spread the great Easter message “I have seen the Lord!” We are an Easter people with an Easter message, not just today, but each and every day.
- When the hunt begins, go as far as you can in new and different directions.
- Keep your eyes open so you can remember where you need to look.
- Always help each other to find the Easter that is scattered all around us.
- And remember, there’s always plenty of Easter to go around.