I'm posting this Easter Sunday talk with permission from its author, my buddy Geoff:
It is somewhere around 30 A.D., and the Messiah is dead. It all happened so fast. It seems like just the other day you sat there, on the grass, one of a multitude listening to words that made your chest ache, words that helped you to reach inside and tug at your own heartstrings. You remember the way the wind was moving and the smell of the wildflowers on the hillside. You remember watching Him as he smiled at a young boy; he took a few loaves of bread and two little fishes, and blessed them, and brake them. You will never, ever forget that miracle. It is burned within your very soul, just like the wind and the smell of the wildflowers. And yet He is dead... He is gone. How can that be? He was going to save you, wasn't he? He was going to free you, wasn't he? But he's gone, and it is a very long walk home.
As you walk you try to think, but there is so much confusion. There are so many questions. What happens now? In whom do you place your trust? Where will the next miracle come from? Or are they all finished? The disciples are scattered, and no less confused than you are, they fear arrest, they fear uncertainty. You remember hearing a rumor that some women saw him at the tomb, that he talked to them, like this is all just some sort of bad dream... but how can that be? You saw him hanging there. You saw the blood on his hands and on his feet, you heard his anguished cry, and felt the shuddering of the earth beneath you. How can that be? It is such a long way home...
How many of us have felt the Lord leave our lives? How many of us have felt his absence? We may not have been there at the cross, we may not have witnessed his trial, we may never even have seen his face, but how many of us, when it's late at night, when it's been a hard day, when we've lost someone, or when someone has lost us, how many of us have felt his absence just as acutely as if we were missing a part of ourselves? We wonder where He is, or where he went, or whether we'll ever be able to find him again. This is not unique to you. It's not unique to me... it's a feeling that has echoed across the ages:
Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me... Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?
How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord?
~Alma the Younger
O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?
~The Brother of Jared
O God, where art thou?
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Even for the very best of us it can sometimes be hard to remember the promises the Lord has made. It can be hard to remember the power of the spirit or the strength of the sermon when faced with overwhelming obstacles like rejection, insignificance, insecurity, and pain--when all we can think about is the fact that he isn't here anymore, and that it's getting harder and harder to remember what it felt like when he was. And even the best of us can be heard to cry out, "Where did you go?"
But there is a promise that should never be forgotten. One that will never be broken. A contract whose terms will never be changed. When Mary and the other women visited the garden tomb, that Easter Morning so many years ago, what they found was not a tragedy, but a triumph. Though they might not have recognized it at the start.
And how like them we are. Sometimes all we see is an empty tomb. Sometimes we are so pained by what we've lost that we forget the promises that have been left behind to comfort us. Ought not Christ to have suffered these thing, and to enter into his glory?
There are times when we are all a little like Mary. After confusion had set in and the others had left to spread the news, after the initial shock had begun to wear away, we find her there, standing outside the tomb. Weeping. And as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and noticed someone who she assumed to be the gardener. He, too, asked... Woman, why weepest thou? Who seekest thou? And she answered him with the same near-desperation, pleading to know where he had taken her savior. And then... he called her by name.
There are times when we are all a little like Mary. When we have lost our bearings, whenwe are floundering, or just trying to tread water. The Lord will send his angels to comfort us and perhaps the only question we can think to ask them is "Where did he go? Where did you take him?" He Himself might even come to us... maybe he was there the whole time. And for a time we may not even recognize his hand in our life, we may not even recognize him. Until he calls us by name. And then the dots are connected. The doctrine falls into place. Assumes its true and eternal meaning.
He lives. That is the greatest miracle of all, that He lives. And because He lives so shall we. And that is the greatest promise of all. Everything about us that is truly important can be made eternal. Our knowledge, our personalities, our relationships, our families. Because Jesus Christ overcame sin and death, we are made heirs of that great promise. That we will be our true selves, forever.
The Lord has called us by name. He has given us all that we could ever need in order to believe that He guides this church. He has called Prophets and Seers to testify of Him. He has given us scripture, and access to his words. He has given us commandments, to lead us home.
The Holy Ghost has borne witness to my soul that these things are true. I know that He knows me. I know that He knows you Do not let the pain of loss numb you to the promises that have been made to us all. Because there will always be an Easter Sunday, and Christ has already won.