Friday, April 13, 2012

Idle Tales

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Luke 24:1-12

Years ago we were camping in the Rockies with friends and the early riser of us all came back telling tales. He said Smokey the Bear was at the campground. We had our oldest with us and she was barely three. Our friend was a great kidder but as a young mother I did not like him teasing or frightening our little one. He insisted he had seen Smokey the Bear, that all was well but that we needed to go right now. Indeed, as we rushed up the hill after him with Emily in his grasp, we realized the impossible was true. A young forest ranger was talking to the children about fire safety and Smokey the Bear was greeting the children and giving them small gifts. The impossible was true, it was not just an idle tale but a chance encounter with an completely unexpected guest.

The women who went weeping to the tomb with heavy hearts, found unexpected guests and terrifyingly wonderful news. This Easter week we have heard several different recountings of the resurrection story. Each gospel puts different characters in the drama at different times. But the story of impossible being true is the same. In Luke's retelling the women as dismissed as carrying an idle tale, foolish and gullible. And yet the disciples would soon find out that the idle tale would be the reality and they would meet Jesus on the road and know him in the breaking of the bread. We are invited, this Easter week to consider that God is able to make impossible possible, and that our prayers and work in faith is to go about our business expecting God to make the impossible possible, changing hearts and minds in the process. God's love and work is to be bringing healing, hope and change where there never has been. God's desire is to be in relationship with us and for us to have our hearts open to God's possibilities and to look beyond our limitations.

This week, as I travel, I know that there are many challenges and barriers ahead, and I ask God to help me not focus on the very human limitations, but rather, put my focus on God's possibilities and God's story and agenda. God has promised to bring us out of our deserts, to heal the brokenhearted, to make the lame walk and the blind to see in every generation. This is our story today and it is no idle tale. May we all trust that the one who brought life from death, forgiveness from violence and destruction, and healing across generations, will continually and powerfully move with us today. May the road ahead be a walk of hopeful expectation, of moving towards God's love for the healing of this generation.

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