Some of my sweetest childhood memories involve standing at my bedroom window watching other children file by on their way to school, making faces at them. Knowing that I would be staying home all day. 

Of course, you had to have a good excuse back then. You couldn’t skip school with the sniffles. Whooping cough was acceptable, pneumonia worked, a broken femur could do it. 

That’s why I lived dangerously. I climbed tall trees with thin branches, I ate mud, I chewed gum I had personally peeled off the sidewalk—anything to get a day away from school. If nothing worked, I’d forge an absentee note. Unfortunately, my teacher caught on when I handed her one that was signed, “Philip’s Mom.”

Another smart child tried to get out of school with this note: “There will be no school this week so Colin can stay home and play video games. From Mrs. Teague.” I don’t think it worked.

No Body!

Here are some hilarious absentee notes received by surprised teachers. 

• Please excuse Lisa for being absent. She was sick and I had her shot.

• I kept Monica at home today because she was not feeling too bright. 

• Please excuse Ray from school on Friday. He has very loose vowels.

• My son is under a doctor’s care and should not take P.E. today. Please execute him.

• Please excuse Jimmy for being. It was his father’s fault.

• Please excuse Jennifer for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.

Each Easter, we celebrate the greatest absentee notice ever delivered. The messenger was an angel, seated atop a stone that had been rolled away from Jesus’ empty tomb. “He is not here,” said the angel. “He has risen, just as He said! Come and see the place where He lay” (see Matthew 28:6). In that place, there was a pile of grave clothes. But no body. Jesus was alive. 

The Empty Containers

The Reverend Harry Pritchett Jr. tells the story of a little boy he once knew. Philip was born with Down syndrome and attended a Grade 3 Sunday school class. But kids can be heartless sometimes, and these kids didn’t readily accept Philip with all his differences. 

The Sunday after Easter the teacher gave little egg-shaped containers to each of the kids. The children were told to go outside, find some symbol for new life and put it in their container. After running about the church property, the kids returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. The teacher opened them one by one. After each one, whether a flower, butterfly or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh. Then one was opened. There was nothing in it.

Philip spoke up: “That’s mine.” 

“You don’t ever do things right!” one child said. “There’s nothing there!” 

“I did so do it,” Philip insisted. “It’s empty. Like the tomb was empty!” 

From then on, Philip became an accepted member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most children would have shrugged off. At the funeral, this class of eightyear-olds marched up to the altar with their Sunday school teacher, not with flowers but with empty egg containers.

Thanks for the reminder, Philip. May we never forget. Because of that empty tomb, we have hope in life and in death. Because Jesus was absent from the tomb, someday we will be, too. No absentee note needed.

Photo: provectors/

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