“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” follows a group of British seniors who choose to retire to the seemingly exotic Marigold Hotel in India. Though it turns out to be not as luxurious as imagined, they each find a home and are forever transformed by their shared experiences.

Of particular interest is the growing friendship between Muriel, one of the retirees, and Sonny, the young Indian man who runs the hotel. Over the course of the movie, Muriel gives Sonny lessons in love and life, and ends up co-managing the hotel with him.

In the sequel — “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” — the hotel has become a success, which sets the stage for Sonny to open another one. He is also preparing to marry the love of his life. As Muriel’s health is failing, which she keeps secret, she helps Sonny with the new hotel and advises him on his love life. She then writes a letter to Sonny, which is voiced over at the end of the movie.

“I know you’ll understand me missing the reception, and I hope you’ll forgive me for not coming to say goodbye. Go and have the honeymoon you deserve … There is no such thing as an ending, just a place where you leave the story. And it’s your story now.”

As Christians observe Easter, we experience Jesus leaving the story, as his story becomes ours. When the women and disciples encountered the empty tomb, I hear Muriel’s words. “There is no such thing as an ending, just a place where you leave the story. And it’s your story now.”

Easter ultimately is the recognition that Jesus’ death did not close the book on his ministry of love, compassion and reconciliation; nor his passion for justice and his prescription for waging peace. It did not mean an end to his call to love our neighbors and care for the least of these. Quite the contrary – the end of his story marks the beginning of ours.

In the face of all the cynicism, corruption and brutality the world can offer, followers of Jesus are to live with generosity, dignity, courage, and compassion. The empty tomb is a symbol that these values live on despite the worst the world can bring to bear. “There is no such thing as an ending, just a place where you leave the story. And it’s your story now.”

The Rev. Ryder is co-pastor of New Covenant Community, a congregation in Normal. She can be reached via email at susan@nccnormal.org.

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