Wish all my blog readers A Happy Easter
A Sunday school teacher asked her class to write one sentence each on “What Easter Means to me.” One pupil wrote: “Egg salad sandwiches for the next two weeks!”
3 Buddies were discussing death and one asked the group: What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? “He was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community.” “He was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow.” “Look, he’s moving!!” That’s what Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome heard from the Angels when they went to anoint the body of Jesus: “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.
One lady wrote in to a question and answer forum. “Dear Sirs, Our preacher said on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think? Sincerely, Bewildered.” “Dear Bewildered, Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear thru his side…put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens. Sincerely, Charles.”
We have all heard of Easter joy. But how much we do know of Easter fear? That is the question that today’s gospel poses. Because in this resurrection account by the evangelist Mark, there is very little joy to be found. When the women discover the empty tomb and they hear the news that Jesus is risen – they do not rejoice. They flee from the tomb and say nothing to anyone because they are afraid. Fear at the tomb might at first be puzzling. But upon closer reflection it contains a central message of the Easter story. The women were afraid because as soon as they realized that Jesus had been raised up, they also realized that their lives would have to change. As soon as they saw that the tomb was empty, they also knew that all that Jesus had taught them was reliable and true, that God was alive, that life was more powerful than death, and that their lives would have to show it.
We find ourselves in a very similar situation to the women at the tomb. If we don’t believe in the resurrection, if we think that the message of Jesus is misguided or misdirected, we can go home and no one will expect very much of us. But the minute that we believe the message that Christ has been raised up, that God is now working in the world through Christ, then in that moment we must admit that people should see God in us. And that is where the fear comes in. For such a calling is an awesome responsibility.
The women at the tomb remind us that whenever we encounter life, we encounter not only joy, but fear, not only grace but also responsibility. In our deepest moments of joy, is there not always a tinge of fear? When we realize we have been given a tremendous opportunity in our work, or our career, along with our joy is there not the doubt: “am I really up to this challenge. When we hold a newborn son or daughter in our arms for the first time and are overwhelmed with the joy that has been given to us, can we not hear in that joy a whisper asking: “Are you wise enough, are you brave enough, are you loving enough to shape this life into a new human being?”
One of the things that that fear in the midst of joy does for us is to remind us that life is real. As much as life is a blessing, it also calls for responsibility. It also asks us to live what we have been given to the best of our ability
We come together as a people tonight sharing the same fears. The fears of whether we are good enough as a spouse, as a parent, as a friend, as a disciple. Yet we come together tonight and stand together knowing that despite all of our fears and doubts we can still claim God’s mercy and God’s love. It is important for us to know that that mixture of joy and fear is the true sign of a disciple, something that every believer here tonight shares.
If your Easter does not have at least a bit of fear, you might be missing the fullness of the Easter message. Because the Easter message is that God is real, that Christ is risen, that life is stronger than death and that our lives should show it. Yes, that is a frightening call. But there is some fear in everything which has value. So let us tonight stand together and push through the fear to the joy. Let us admit our doubts but choose to believe nonetheless. Let us join our lives together and with all of our imperfections and nevertheless fearlessly proclaim: “Christ is risen. Alleluia!”
“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday. Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” St. Francis de Sales