Saturday, March 22, 2008

Confessions: Secrecy and Kindness

John 19:38-42

19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body.

19:39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.

19:40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

19:41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid.

19:42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

How sad it is when someone has to keep his or her true identity hidden for fear of condemnation and punishment! Joseph and Nicodemus, closeted by fear, have yet the courage to offer kindness and assistance to Jesus' family and friends. Where are Peter and the other disciples? Have Joseph and Nicodemus overcome their fear? Or do their skills as businessmen override their caution and impel them to deal with the practical matters of burial, despite their fears?

Joseph generously donates his own tomb. Nicodemus brings the necessary spices and together they prepare Jesus' body for burial and place him in the tomb.

And then begins the period of mourning and grieving for this lost life, the place we have all been, as family members and friends come to the end of their lives. It is a time when we don't recognize that after great pain may come great joy. It is dark and forbidding. It is hopeless. It is despairing.

And yet kindness has emerged, unexpectedly, like the first crocus of spring, a hint that all is not lost, that human love and mercy continue, despite great loss and sorrow. (Cue the band: "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you're only a day away.")


Berrysmom said...

I'm praying for all the colleagues (and for myself) as we put the final touches on our Easter sermons. There is so much to say about the Easter message (but I had never before linked it with "Annie!")

I wish you clarity and depth as you consider how best to reach your congregation with the message of hope and renewal that Easter brings.

And now, back to sermon writing... 5 p.m. on Saturday, and still struggling.

ms. kitty said...

My sermon is incubating right now, awaiting the final tweaks tomorrow before our 4 p.m. service. I'm having Easter dinner here tonight with friends (roast lamb, asparagus, roasted yams, and strawberries) and I've just decided not to agonize over it anymore today.

Thanks for your comment and your prayers, Judy.