When my father died, my mother and I went to the cemetery to buy his headstone. In a time of sorrow, headstone selection feels like it is filled with endless decisions: What color stone, what font, what image, and what remembrances. We wanted the headstone to be attractive and to properly reflect his life. However, when I was younger I couldn't fully wrap my head around that symbolism. It made me uncomfortable to walk through a cemetery because each headstone I saw reminded me of what was happening underneath the ground. Jesus used a similar metaphor to hold the religious leaders of his day accountable:
“You are like tombs that are painted white. Outside, those tombs look fine, but inside, they are full of the bones of dead people and all kinds of unclean things. It is the same with you. People look at you and think you are good, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil" (Matthew 23:27b-28, NCV).When the women went to the tomb that first Easter morning, they did not find what they expected. Unlike the religious leaders who had pretty outsides and ugly insides, the outside of Jesus' tomb had been disturbed, but the inside was perfect. It was empty.
Like Christ, we who are believers are being resurrected. We are being called out of our tombs to a new life. That life does not exist in the buildings we call churches, but rather the body we call The Church.
Today our churches are as empty as the tomb was, but I thank God that Jesus is alive. And so is The Church.