Have a Most Blessed Easter!
“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end, Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” Romans 14:7 – 9
For Christians, each year in the rhythm of the Lenten season and Holy Week, we are confronted by death (“From dust you came to dust you will return”), awestruck by God’s gracious response (the Cross of Christ), and amazed anew at God’s powerful gift of resurrection.
Remember the story: On Thursday night before Easter, Jesus was arrested on false charges, brutally beaten, rushed through a fixed trial held illegally in the late night, and declared guilty.
The next day, Good Friday, Jesus was crucified and then he was buried in a borrowed grave. Then on Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene trudged in sorrow to the tomb looking for a dead body and found a risen Lord. She ran shouting the astounding good news: “I have seen the Lord! He is risen!” That night the disciples gathered behind closed doors to try to figure out what this all meant. Could they believe Mary? Had he really been resurrected from the dead?
Then suddenly the risen Jesus was with them in that room. “Peace be with you,” he said, “Don’t be afraid.” He showed them his hands and his side, and they were filled with joy and relief. And then he said to them, “As the Father sent me so I send you.” He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Share the good news.”
In this great work of God, we are given three incredible gifts: comfort, a commission, and companionship.
Comfort: The fear of death seems paramount in our human anxieties. To say that we do not fear death is a lie. We are creatures who long for life; we want to be alive even though we don’t know the future. At the heart of the Christian message is the affirmation that God enters our dying–that God, the Creator of all things, the life of life, has undergone that which is most common to us humans. The One of whom the Church says, “In him was the fullness of God” not only died, he died a crucified criminal. The Christian faith says that nothing in human experience is outside the experience of God.
But Good Friday was not a period, it was only a comma. Jesus Christ conquered death. The story wasn’t finished; the battle wasn’t over. God has the last word. Jesus has the victory! Those disciples were grieving, they were afraid, they were disillusioned. Their hearts were broken. They were filled with despair and confusion and guilt. And then the risen Lord came bringing comfort and consolation and hope. “Be at peace,” he told them. “Don’t be afraid Anymore.”
Easter reminds us that God will ultimately win. Goodness will ultimately win. Truth and love will ultimately win.
A Commission: The risen Jesus told his followers: “As the Father sent me so I send you.” You have a purpose: to love as God has loved you. To share the good news of hope and grace. Death becomes a passage not to be feared, and the way to have a good death is to lead a good life. Lead one, full of curiosity, generosity, and compassion, and there’s no need at the close of the day to rage against the dying of the light. We can go gentle into that good night because we have lived well.
Companionship: If death, then, is no threat to our relationship with God, it should be no threat to anything. We may not know what lies beyond the grave, but we know who is there. God resides on both sides of the tomb. We are on the road to heaven if today we walk with God.
Eternal life is not a possession conferred at death; it is a present endowment. We live it now and continue it through death. With God, “time is eternity in disguise.” (Abraham Heschel)
Celebrate God’s loving action. Rejoice in life! A most blessed Easter!