A bird perches on a bench in Trinity Churchyard against a backdrop of green springtime grass

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: A Powerful and True Tale

Luke 24:1–12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for 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 handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

The women have been with Jesus from the beginning. For many months, Luke tells us, “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women” have shared their lives with Jesus, eating with him and witnessing his healings. Throughout his ministry, these women also “provided for [Jesus and his followers] out of their resources” (Luke 8:1–3), and their monetary support helped to propel his message beyond the confines of Galilee, even as their own lives were upended and transformed by Jesus’s love and power. The women’s support of Jesus was anything but idle.

But now, having “come with Jesus from Galilee,” and after witnessing his trial and crucifixion, the loss they felt was bewildering and disheartening. If Jesus had died — and they had certainly seen him die — then the promises he had made about the in-breaking of God’s kingdom, and the transformation of their own lives in his presence, must have seemed to them an idle wish, a dream nailed to the cross on Golgotha. The last thing they expected, on that early morning on the way to his tomb, was to find “the living among the dead.”

This may be why the news they received is so frightening, so seemingly impossible. Luke highlights the women’s announcement of the resurrection to the men twice, noting “[the women] told all of this to the eleven and all the rest,” and then, as if to drive the point home: “It was Mary Magdalen, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told all this to the apostles…but these words seemed to them an idle tale.” The word for “idle,” layros in Greek, indicates a kind of nonsense. The women’s story sounded like an “idle” — a story not to be believed, even by those who had been on the road with them and with Jesus the entire time.

But the resurrection is anything but “idle.” The news that Jesus is alive, that death has been overcome, electrified the world with forward movement. The message that Jesus was exactly who he said he was — and that the kingdom had indeed arrived “on earth, as in heaven” — was no longer implausible but actively true. Such a truth also propels us today. In joy, and despite the horrors of death, we still proclaim this powerful, and true, tale: Christ is alive. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

—Summerlee Staten

Poet Christian Wiman on resurrection: “One thing poems do is detonate clichés. But another thing that poems can do is reanimate clichés so that they can communicate again.”

Jurgen Moltmann considers the relationship between hope and reality.

Jay Parini describes an encounter with W. H. Auden and the meaning of resurrection.

Willem de Kooning asks us to consider Easter Monday.

Devon Balwit on the power of Easter:

[Faith] could have worn other metaphors,
but instead it rose from the dead

Episcopal Community Services provides help to those in need, reminding us that for Christians, Easter should be every day.

Karl Richter’s cantata for the First Day of Easter.

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Coming Up

Join the Trinity community in exploring the history and significance of stained glass, and the messages found within, in the next Discovery series beginning Sunday, April 24, at 10am. In particular, we’ll focus on the new east-facing stained-glass window being installed at Trinity Church this year.

Father Michael Bird will discuss the New York Diocesan Convention resolutions related to gender identity and will review new liturgies for transgender persons, particularly for renaming, in the next LGBTQ+ Concerns Group meeting on Tuesday, April 26.