We are on a journey toward the Easter celebration "Returning to God with all our hearts." We have some big events to experience before then on our journey. A Service of Confession and Reconciliation, the Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, Passion Week with Holy Thursday and Good Friday. With all of our hearts we will Repent, Come Together, Make A New Thing, and Prepare. The story of resurrected hearts and new life begins early in the morning, just before dawn. In the stillness, in the darkness, Mary made her way to the place of death. Probably carrying spices to anoint Jesus' body, she persisted through the darkness; persisted in doing the necessary work of preparing him for burial. Her beloved One—the one who healed the sick, offered forgiveness of sins, and gave new life within the reign of God—was dead. And in the stillness, in the darkness, she made her way to a stone of shattered dreams and broken hearts.
Our Lenten journey will end on Easter. Our resources for our series from the Reverends Jennifer and Todd Pick remind us how every year, we are asked to tell the same story over and again: gaping tomb, confused mourners, unexpected and unbelievable encounters with angels and a gardener. Every year, the story moves us along from searching in sadness, to shocking disbelief, and finally to joy. And every year, we meet the challenge at the heart of Easter Sunday: to persist through fear and darkness, to believe beyond what we think we know, to welcome Christ in unexpected places and faces. Every year, we decide if we will allow our hearts to be transformed by the promise and the very presence of Christ; if we will trust in our own coming into life again and again. But it isn't just once a year that we get to decide. Every day, every day, you must decide whether hope is stronger than despair, whether love is stronger than death. That's what this story is about.
Every year, people whom we haven't seen since last Easter file into shiny pews on Easter morning in their Easter finest and take in the overwhelming smell of lilies and the sound of a full choir. Some of our people know this story so well that they could recite it by heart. Most probably know the general gist without
remembering the details. And for a precious few, this may be their first time to hear the story at all. On this day there is purpose for all of us: PROCLAIM THE RESURRECTION!
Whether it's the first time or fiftieth time, all of us need to hear this story like lives depend on it, because they do! Hear the stories of Mary Magdalene who came with a broken heart to the tomb just before dawn and saw the beginning of a transformed life; Two disciples who ran for their lives, hearts pounding toward the empty tomb, and who went back to their homes "believing," but not understanding; God's messengers who sat among discarded grave clothes and questioned Mary's tears. Hear the story of the risen Christ who hung around the garden, so Mary wouldn't be alone in her confusion and fear; the story of the risen Lord who calls Mary's name and at once transforms her broken heart to a burning heart. And perhaps, if we share the story, then new generations of people can go back to the ones they love and proclaim as Mary did on that first Easter morning, "I have seen the Lord!"
We will have a glorious resurrection celebrations on Easter Sunday. One at dawn (7:00 AM) as we experience our Risen Lord's love and forgiveness and a Celebration of Life at 10:00 AM. The resurrection of Jesus is not the ending of the story, but the beginning of many hope-filled risings to come. And because the Love of God will come, again and again (and again!), to raise us out of death, we have hope. It's just a whisper now, but if you sit in the stillness and the darkness, you can hear it calling you to rise—hope.
We turn our hearts with hope on Easter to meet the risen Christ with us, within us, and within the love between us; within the unexpected that inspires us. We acknowledge that God is with us in our birthing, our living, our dying, and our rising again. Then, like Mary, we must each decide whether hope is stronger than fear, whether life is stronger than hate, and whether love really is stronger than death . . . every day, every moment, with all our hearts. That is what resurrection is.
Sincerely In Christ,