By The Rev. Sherry Deets
Easter Sunday – April 20, 2014
Happy Easter! Matthew presents us with one of the most dramatic readings of the resurrection. There was a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord descended, his appearance like lightening. In other words, light has split a crack in the universe and everything we thought we knew has changed. To meet Jesus is for the ground to move beneath you, nothing remains as it was.
The guards were so afraid, that they fell to the ground. The angel speaks words of comfort in telling the women to not be afraid. Go and tell. Jesus is risen. And they left with ‘fear and great joy’.
Fear and great joy. It’s striking that the announcement of resurrection doesn’t take away all their fear. Rather, it enables them to keep faith amid their fears, to do their duty and share their good news in spite of their anxiety. This is the very definition of courage. And, we might argue, courage is precisely what Easter is about. For while some preach that coming to faith in Christ should smooth all the rough places of life and still the tremors of this world, I believe that the gospel gives us the ability to keep our feet amid the tremors and enables us not just to persevere but even to flourish when life is difficult.
“Do not be afraid.” This charge — repeated by Jesus when he encounters the women — gives us insight into the very nature of our lives in this world. For there is, indeed, much to fear in our mortal lives. And yet the resurrection of Christ creates the possibility for joy and hope and courage and so much more. Why? Because it changes everything. In the resurrection, you see, we have God’s promise that life is stronger than death, that love is greater than hate, that mercy overcomes judgment, and that all the sufferings and difficulties of this life are transient — real and palpable and sometimes painful, for sure, but they do not have the last word and do not represent the final reality.
Fear and joy, despair and hope, doubt and faith, these are the two sides of our lives in this world. But in the end we have heard the resurrection promise that joy, hope, and faith will ultimately prevail.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story about Winston Churchill’s funeral service. At the close of the service that Churchill planned himself, a single trumpeter stood at the west end of St. Paul’s Abby and sounded “Taps,” the song that signals dusk and the close of another day and is frequently played at the end of a military funeral. But after a moment of stillness that followed the last plaintive note of that song, another trumpeter stood at the east end of St. Paul’s, the end that faced the rising sun, and played “Reveille,” the song of the morning and the call to a new day.
Churchill perceived, you see, that Christ’s resurrection signals above and beyond all else that our God is a God of new life and never-ending possibility. The good news of Christ’s resurrection does not take away our fear — though sometimes we wish desperately that it would — but it does offer us courage and hope by anchoring us in the sure promise that God will have the last word, and that that word is one of light and life and grace and mercy and love and peace.
Blessed Easter! Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Amen.
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