My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are celebrating Easter in a different fashion today, but keep in mind, the first Easter was a shocker, too.
“Do not be afraid,” had to be said twice that day, once by the angel and then emphatically by Jesus.
At the first Easter, the world was disrupted like ours: an earthquake, lightning, “The guards shook and became like dead men.” On the first Easter there was fear. So, my Easter message to you uses Jesus’ same words: do not be afraid.
Where is Jesus in this first Easter? We don’t see him anywhere near the tomb, the place of death. Jesus quickly distances himself from the place of anguish and moves forward. Jesus is on the move. Where is he? The angel tells the faithful women “He is not here; he has been raised . . . he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.”
That’s Jesus, our good shepherd, always ahead of us. Always leading us. He goes ahead, preparing the way. Remember what he said before he raised Lazarus? “My sheep hear my voice.”
These women clearly hear the voice of their shepherd and run forward to meet him. When the women set out, following the angel’s direction, taking the first steps forward in faith, “with fear and great joy” that is when they meet Jesus. They had fear – their heads must have been spinning – but their joy outweighed their fear. The women put their feet in motion despite anxiety pulling and dragging at them; despite all rationality telling them all was lost. Faith and hope pulled them along, and then they met the Lord.
Today, when Covid19 stalks us, and we are fearful, we might search for Jesus like the women.
Where is he? Where did he go? We may wonder, is Jesus still with us? There is so much death. Yet, the angel’s message is for us too, in the midst of a pandemic, for this present moment. Jesus amplifies the message: “Do not be afraid: go and tell my brothers.” The message is twofold: don’t be afraid. The second part of the message is there’s work to be done: GO. TELL.
In the midst of sorrow, there is life. Like the women who find an empty tomb with a vibrant creature of light guarding the entrance – there is still joy. He is with us. He IS risen. Death did not win. We can firmly hold on to this Easter promise. Because of Christ we have eternal life NOW, right now. Because of Christ’ sacrifice of love, we can move forward out of fear, and we will meet him, our Savior on the road ahead of us.
Where will he lead us? We don’t know, but we know that trust, faith, love, and hope have the last words in this Easter story.
My Easter message to you echoes our Savior’s: do not be afraid. There is trust, faith, love and hope walking the earth. Go forward and meet him.
In Jesus Name we pray.