The following responsive confession is from the United Church of Christ. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. We anoint the death of our dreams, even before we allow them a chance to live. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. We give up on hope so easily, on the expectation that God will do something incredible. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them God speaks through the strangers we encounter, but we don’t hear, we don’t want to be challenged by a new word. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is not here, but has risen.” We seek life from the death of the past. We hold to that which breathes only in our memory; to mistakes long past; to hurts long inflicted; to strings attached to forgiveness. “Remember how Jesus told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man, the ‘Human One,’ must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified and on the third day rise again.” Too often torn and scattered, we feel unworthy of the healing of God’s grace or the promise of restoration. Then they remembered Jesus’ words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. We forget the promises of God, even those whispered just moments ago. We want proof before we’ll believe, before we’ll be faithful. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. We don’t risk enough to trust the messengers in everyday appearance. We don’t dare ourselves to understand. But these words seemed to the apostles an idle tale, and they did not believe them. We think our problems too big for God! We act like frightened disciples, unwilling to allow God into our crowded lives, unwilling to make room for the One who creates and creates again. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened. We are like Peter. We deny God; we fail to share the miracle; we keep the good news to ourselves.
Forgive us, God, for our disbelief—for seeing an empty tomb and thinking a cruel trick; for discovering a discarded burial cloth yet still holding to death; for hearing words of life but keeping them to ourselves. Restore us even in our unbelief. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon:
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 NRSV) Do not be afraid! Receive the good news with great joy! God’s promises are true. Christ has risen. Believe and be alive.