Mourning in an Empty Tomb

On a particular day, a group of individuals and families who might not normally gather together do. They join their voices and hearts together. They share stories and life. They break bread and pour a cup while sharing it with anyone else who is hungry and thirsty. This is church — pure and simple.

As a church gathers, they, in a deep way, gather in an empty tomb believing, trying to believe, or maybe just going through the motions because they do not know what else to do.

Church = Gathering in an empty tomb

Sometimes, we gather in an empty tomb and it feels as if we are being crucified. Church also means being in solidarity with all who are feeling crucified by life— by systems that oppress, injustices that sting, or losing someone too soon.

Church = Being in solidarity with all who feel crucified

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Las Vegas will gather together on Sunday while mourning the recent loss of their pastor who died celebrating his one year anniversary with his spouse.

I knew Pastor Steve Willis. I know some of the people gathering in the empty tomb known as First Christian Church, Las Vegas. I cannot imagine what you are experiencing. Sudden loss during the hope of so much feels as if it is crucifixion.

Church = Solidarity with the crucified in an empty tomb

Sometimes, we are mourning in an empty tomb timid to vocalize “this shouldn’t be.”

Followers of Jesus gather in an empty tomb each Sunday believing, wanting to believe more than we do, or just going through the motions. This is what we do — pure and simple.

For First Christian Church, Las Vegas, we are with you as you mourn in an empty tomb. This shouldn’t be.

As I write these thoughts on my phone in an airport, light is overcoming darkness.

As you gather in Las Vegas or some other place, may you glimpse the light overcoming the darkness.

As you experience moments of crucifixion, may you feel prayers and support from around the world.

As you mourn in the empty tomb, may you join your voices together with people who might not know your name, may you share stories, and may the bread and cup be passed to you as you remember the One in whose beloved image you are created.

Jonathan Hall is the Senior Pastor at First Christian Church, Colorado Springs. You can email him at and find him on various social platforms as JonathanBHall.