On a recent plane trip, a young child, probably no more than a year old, looked over the seat in front of me to see what I was doing. I looked up from my book and winked at him and placed my hand my over my face and then uncovered it. He was delighted and for a few minutes we engaged in a game of peekaboo.
Peekaboo is a game every child plays at one time or another. You’ve played it, right? You cover your face, then uncover it, and exclaim, “I see you!” or “Where’s baby!”
Psychologists speak of peekaboo as a gentle, but important, learning tool. You see, up until about a year one or so, children lack a sense of “object permanence.” They wonder: is the world going come back or do mom or dad still exist when I close my eyes or they go away for a moment?
Learning that in all the changes of life, something endures, is essential not only to growing up but to having a sense of trust, of believing that we can count on the world and important people to be reliable and faithful.
That period between Good Friday, when Jesus died on the Cross, and Easter Sunday when he rose from the dead was, for Jesus’ followers, a cosmic game of peekaboo. Jesus was gone, their world had turned dark, they were afraid and alone, and anxious at being separated from their beloved teacher.
Would light come again? Would there be a new day? In all the changes they experienced over the past week, would God still be faithful? Would Jesus’ message still live on?
It was Sunday morning, and the women came to the tomb of Jesus, where his body was buried, with a big question, “Who will roll the stone away from the tomb so we can pay our respects, and care for Jesus’ body?”
Have you ever tried to move something bigger than yourself? Has a bigger person ever tried to keep you from moving forward? Well, that’s how they felt.
But, when they came around the corner, they saw something amazing. The stone had been rolled away, and the door was open…but no one was there. “Where’s Jesus?” they cry out to one another.
Do you ever go looking for people? Three weeks ago, our family went to Universal Studios-Orlando. We were in quest of the world of wizards and we journeyed through Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, like Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Dumbledore. We weren’t alone. Around us, were crowds of people. I can tell you how I felt, when for a moment I couldn’t see Jack or James. I looked around and my heart started beating faster. I was anxious. Are they lost? Or, am I lost?
Do you remember how you felt when you saw that familiar face once again? Relief, joy, peace of mind. Now you can exhale.
Well, Mary Magdalene, was one of Jesus’ best friends. She loved him the way we love a best friend or spiritual companion. She couldn’t imagine life without him. When she saw that the tomb was empty, she was beside herself in grief – she had lost someone she couldn’t live without – and she goes looking for him. She comes to the garden and discovers a man whom she believes to be the gardener. “Where have they taken my teacher and friend?” she cries anxiously.
And, then, she hears him call her name, “Mary.” Has anyone ever called your name when you felt bad or lost your way?
I remember getting lost just for a minute at Disneyland, California, when I was a young child. Maybe, I wasn’t really lost – my mom and dad were careful, just like I am with Jack and James – but I felt lost and I wanted to run or cry or both, and then I heard someone call out “Bruce.” And, I felt safe once more.
When Jesus called her name, “Mary,” everything changed. She felt safe. She felt calm. She began to trust that everything would be ok.
On Easter, we talk about something amazing – more amazing than Harry Potter or Star Wars – the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’ coming back to life after a painful death. I don’t know what happened, I don’t know the science of resurrection or how a dead person comes back to life, but those first women and men experienced something that changed everything. They thought Jesus was dead – forever – and he came back to life – to love them, to teach them, to tell them that nothing in the world could defeat them. That God is with us and will get us through our greatest fears.
Today, regardless of what’s going on: remember Easter means God is with you. You are never alone. Whatever happens is in God’s care, and God has never lost any child, anytime, or anywhere.
The story never ends, and Jesus tells Mary, “don’t hold onto me.” Later, he’ll give her a hug, I’m sure. But, in that moment, he is promising something amazing: “Wherever you go, I’m with you. I’m with you at school, on the soccer or baseball field, in the hospital, or when you go to a distant place. You’ll never be alone, even in the dark.”
Peekaboo! I see you! Peekaboo! God is with you! Peekaboo! You are safe! And even when you don’t see it, God has provided everything we need to face our fears and to do something just as important – to help other people who are afraid, to be their light and love and safety.
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Today! Christ is Here! Christ is Always with You! Hallelujah! Amen!