Rev. Tom Jelinek Photo by Marion Vendituoli

Many years ago, when I was in high school, my father and I often spent Saturday mornings combing the swap meets in Tucson. He would search for unusual cameras and photographic equipment, and I would look for old electronic items. One Saturday, I spied an old portable radio. I saw the covering on the case was torn, and the dial was cracked. The seller said he wasn’t sure if it still worked, which was a virtual guarantee that it didn’t, but I purchased it anyway, reasoning that if some of the parts were still good, it would be worth the price. Later that day, I decided to try it out. I turned the switch, and expected either sparks and smoke, or no response at all. But instead, the old set crackled to life, and I was soon listening to short-wave stations from all over the world on a $5.00 radio! It was even more remarkable because I had no expectation that the set would work at all.

On Easter morning, nearly two thousand years ago, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, went to the tomb of Jesus, expecting to pay their respects by anointing Jesus’ body with spices. Instead, they found the stone that sealed the tomb had been rolled away, and soon learned that Jesus was not there at all, but had risen from the dead. The women ran to tell the other disciples what they had seen and heard. What the women found was completely unexpected; even though Jesus had told the disciples that he would rise from death, since the cataclysmic events of the crucifixion a couple of days before, they thought their teacher, friend, and leader had been taken from them forever. But when they discovered that what Jesus had promised them was true, it changed their lives, and the lives of all Christians from that moment on forever. God, in Christ, had defeated death, and had created a new relationship between God and God’s people. And central to that relationship was the idea of love; that God’s people were to love God, love one another, and love their neighbors as themselves.

With God present, we have the possibility of being surprised by the miraculous and wonderful – in our lives, in our town, our nation, and the world. I hope that we’ll be surprised by understanding, that we’ll find a renewed sense of community and mutual respect. I hope that we’ll be surprised by hospitality, that new faces in our midst will be welcomed and valued. And I hope that we’ll be surprised by peace, that violence will end, and resolution of conflicts will come. In this season of resurrection, it’s only appropriate that we look for unexpected blessings. Let’s celebrate God’s presence with new life. And let’s pray, and do what we can as we are able, to the end that God’s renewing spirit will bring hospitality, peace, and understanding. May it be so. Amen.

Editor’s Note: Rev. Tom Jelinek is pastor of the Patagonia Community United Methodist Church. He can be reached at 520-988-0722.