Today we commemorate three women who experience the good news of the risen Christ during an act of service. Joanna, Mary, and Salome approach Jesus’ tomb early in the morning with the intention of anointing his body. However, when they approach the tomb, the women discover that Jesus’ body isn’t there. Instead, they are told that Christ is risen and they should go out and share the good news with others. Although they approach the tomb with a desire to serve and to care for Jesus and his body, they leave as witnesses to the resurrection, and with the invitation to be a witness to other people.
I wonder: have you ever witnessed the presence of Jesus while caring for your neighbor? When have you experienced the good news of Christ through serving others?
Some of my favorite youth group memories come from service and mission trips. There’s something about serving neighbors alongside peers that opens one up to experiencing Christ in new and powerful ways. I was reminded of this last month, when members of our congregation’s youth group participated in a week of service learning. We engaged in advocacy, played games and laughed with children, and turned compost piles in an urban garden.
The work was hard, but it was also meaningful. I would even say that the experience was transformational. But, for these youth, what made the experience transformative was not always the actual work that we did. Transformation also happened through listening, story sharing, and building relationships with the neighbors-turned-friends with whom we interacted. We heard stories about how the love of Christ radiates in our community and bore witness to how the love of Jesus is present in our lives, too. We experienced the presence of the risen Christ in many different ways. And, at the end of the week, we commissioned our young people to go out in the world and continue sharing the risen Christ with others. Today, I hope and pray these youth have the bravery and courage to go out and share the good news with others.
Joanna, Mary, and Salome became witnesses to Christ’s resurrection as they approached the tomb with hearts of love and service. We are called to love and serve our neighbors with open hearts, too. May we be bold and brave enough to share with others the ways we are transformed by witnessing Jesus’ love in the world around us.