After last Sunday’s sermon, several people spoke to me about their own experience of the tomb. We all go there, eventually. The pain of losing a loved one, failure of a marriage, or crumbling of a career…there are many ways we end up in that dark place where we are lost in grief, pain, or shame.
Jesus asks that you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. When the wealthy man came, asking how he might inherit “eternal life”, Jesus told him, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ (Mark 10:21)
To deny yourself and take up your cross is to voluntarily experience a kind of death. For the wealthy man who came to Jesus, selling his possessions and giving the money to the poor would be to walk right into the tomb. If we die to the things we cling to (the false hope we place in wealth, fame, power, accomplishments, and privilege) we pass through the tomb to new life. Jesus asks us to do this because he knows that we are going there anyway. Life leads to the tomb. If we go there with Jesus, not alone but together, as followers of Jesus, we discover that Jesus is there with us. We are not alone. There is a way through the tomb to new life.
I have been to the tomb and I know you have been there. I am grateful to God that we are in this together. I am grateful that you have chosen to be a part of this congregation where we watch out for each other, caring for others when they find themselves in the tomb. What we have discovered is that God gives us gifts to care for our neighbors, to care for strangers, and to care for each other.
All that is asked is that you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. All that is asked is that you go into the tomb willingly, not alone but together, now, while we are here to support one another, to remind you that Christ is with you, to welcome you when you emerge from the tomb (again) to resurrection life.