Summary: It has been said that we should forget our mistakes, but remember the lessons they taught us. The women at the tomb learned this simple truth that first Easter morning.

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(Graphic Slides are available to accompany the Biblical stories in this message from Lumicon Digital Production:

A reading from the good news of Jesus Christ according to Luke from the Message translation:

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.


What’s the most distressing event you remember in your life? For each of us it could be something different—the death of a loved one, a major illness or accident that we experience, being terminated from work, failing a big exam at school. For all of us here and collectively in America the most recent events that have impacted us are the terrorists attacks of 9/11.

Do you remember where you were when you first heard about or saw the events unfolding? I was upstairs in the church office. My son called me on my cell phone and asked, “Have you heard what is happening?” and he began to give me the details as he was watching them unfold on TV. After I got off the phone, I told our church secretary what was happening, we turned on the radio to listen—we were both visibly shaken.

All of us will experience such events if we live long enough. I remember hearing the news of President Reagan being shot when I was at a conference in Tallahassee, Florida in 1982. I was in elementary school in 1963 when the announcement came over the intercom from the principal that President Kennedy had been shot. Negative memories and experiences are a reality in our world.. The forces weighing on us seem unbearable at times—we can become overwhelmed with evil.

So it was on that resurrection morning when the angel asked the women, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery?” “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Even the history of the world throughout the 20th Century and now at the beginning of the 21st Century is one of despair at the forces of evil. From the “lost generation of World War I” to the present, people have been numbing their pain at lost dreams.

In the face of ongoing death, pain, and evil, positive memories in our personal and corporate histories act as inspirational rallying points—Remember the Alamo, Remember the Holocaust, Remember Pearl harbor. On March 11th, the six-month anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, two great beams of light rose from a site just north of Ground Zero into the night sky to honor those lost on September 11th and to celebrate the spirit of all the New Yorkers who have worked to rebuild and renew their City. Tribute in Light will shine each night through April 13th, from dusk until 11 p.m.

This past week I reflected upon the life of my mother and her influence upon me as the first anniversary of her death occurred.

Such memories are not simply a memorial to the dead, but a way to nurture the reality of the experience and keep its passions burning.

One of the ways that we manifest our memories is through touch. On the day we buried my mother’s body, the last thing I did as I left the cemetery was to touch her casket, pausing to remember and say good-bye—as did many other family members. Touch and remember.

Touch is a powerful memory maker—though many different symbols, like at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, the Wailing Wall, the grave of a loved one.

The opposite is true too—”do not touch” signs are ways to keep people detached from experiences.

It has been said that we should forget our mistakes, but remember the lessons they taught us. The women at the tomb learned this simple truth that first Easter morning.

They made the mistake of forgetting all that Jesus had taught them about his resurrection. They came to the tomb prepared to deal with his dead body.

They were so wrapped up in death and grief that it never dawned on them to remember all the things that Jesus said about life!

In spite of their devout intentions in coming to anoint Jesus’ body, these women failed to grasp Jesus’ message about the resurrection.

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