empty-tombSt Luke in the first of his Easter stories (Luke 24:1-12) provides us with a story of two contrasting reactions to the discovery of the empty tomb. The women, who unlike the apostles, stayed with Jesus through his ordeal on the cross, and began their preparations for his burial on the afternoon of Good Friday, now return at dawn on the third day to continue the ritual of properly embalming the body. Unlike the practices of other cultures, the Jewish burial custom was in two stages: the first, which the women were doing, was to wrap the body, usually in expensive clothes packed with spices, in order to facilitate the decomposition of the body – and to cover the smell for any who were foolish enough to come near. After the body had decomposed, then the bones were collected and transferred to the final resting place – an ossuary which would then be laid to rest in its final place. It was a very efficient way to use space and limited resources. So they would know where the body was buried and were simply returning to complete their duty and devotion to the one they loved. They had no anticipation that the tomb would be empty…

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Recorded at St Paul’s, Easter Sunday 9.30am (8 mins)