Easter Changes Everything!
For weeks, the commercial world has been preparing us for Easter. Ads and emails invite us to “hop to” the latest sales promotion, remind us to shop for that Easter dinner “with our peeps,” and try to entice us with an “egg-cellent” deal just for us – each of us a special “some-bunny.” The yearning within us for spring and new life is addressed with thoughts of Easter baskets, bunnies, chicks, eggs, and a switch to everything “spring.”
Yet, we are still left with the unsettling reality that we live in a broken world. Each day brings reminders of the divisions among us in our society and the communities in which we live; social media, newspapers, political, and even religious interactions illustrate the reality that we are not one united human family. In addition, we live with the personal reality of broken relationships, broken bodies and spirits, and the grief and lament which arise from the frailty of life.
It was in just such a context of human pain, brokenness, political and religious division, that the events of Holy Week unfolded. Our Jesus, who in his life walked with people in their personal griefs and laments – through sickness, need, loss, and death, endured all the pain, fear, anger, and hatred of a sinful world. The selfless giving of himself in life and in his act of atonement in death, made possible our “at-one-ment” with God and one another in spite of not living as one united human family. Such is the wondrous love of our Savior for us and for our salvation.
When Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, Salome, and the other women went to the tomb with the spices for Jesus’ body, they found the stone rolled away, but no body. Then angels appeared beside them and said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:1-5; cf., Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:1-6).
It’s easy to get preoccupied with ourselves and the world around us; the women who went to the tomb experienced it, as do we. But fear, anger, bitterness, and sadness reside in the same place as death – a place that cannot give us life and wholeness.
The angels’ message to the women is a message for us as well: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Everything has changed! Real life cannot be found in all the latest and greatest things that promise us happiness as we serve ourselves. Fullness of life is a gift that comes to us from the One who is the Resurrection and the Life. Everything we thought about ourselves and the world has been turned upside down. Death is not the end – Jesus is not dead, He is alive!
Everything has changed! Sin, death, and the brokenness and frailty of life do not have the last word because Jesus lives! The One who is Life itself lives and gives life to us, his beloved. Jesus’ victory over sin, death, divisions, and brokenness is our victory and our new life.
Everything has changed! Jesus taught us about the seed that is planted; it dies, but then sprouts and brings forth new life. Jesus invites us to look at even nature around us and be reminded that death does not have the last word.
At the rite of Holy Baptism, the newly baptized hears the words: “You belong to Christ, in whom you have been baptized. Alleluia.” In baptism, we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 8). Every baptism is a reminder of this. And every Sunday is a reminder of the Resurrection. Everything has changed!
In this Resurrection Season, may God give you strength and comfort as you walk through the trials and burdens of life; May God give you that blessed assurance that our Resurrected Christ has changed everything and made everything new; and May God refresh you with the healing and wholeness that comes from the Easter message that Jesus lives and gives you new life!
“Christ is risen! Henceforth never death or hell shall us enthrall. We are Christ’s, in him forever we have triumphed over all. All the doubting and dejection of our trembling hearts have ceased; hail the day of resurrection! Let us rise and keep the feast. Christ is risen! Alleluia! Risen our victorious head! Sing his praises! Alleluia! Christ is risen from the dead!” (ELW 382)