This weekend we celebrate Easter, the new dawn and the amazing work of salvation. God’s plan for us fulfilled in Jesus resurrection … It is a season of joy!
But as our community in particular has witnessed over Holy Week, we still celebrate in the shadow of a pandemic, that is still with us and present in our lives.
This year we raise our “Alleluias” and proclaim “Christ is risen, risen indeed!” in the shadow millions who have lost beloved ones throughout the world.
We celebrate the stone rolled away, but with war raging in the Ukraine and people leaving the homes they love in search of a new place they can call their own.
We celebrate the empty tomb this year with worry and realistic fears about economic difficulties, inflation, rising fuel costs and food insecurity.
We celebrate Jesus risen today with a deepening understanding of the mental health crisis which has been born out of pandemic-induced loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
This Easter, we come to the tomb, and although we are shown the joy and light of the new dawn perhaps we are world-wearied, numb, bewildered, sad and tired.
When Peter sees the empty tomb, he runs away.
When “the beloved disciple” sees it, he believes without comprehension.
When Mary sees it, she weeps and waits for more in the holy darkness.
But all of them, without exception, experience Easter. The resurrection meets them where they are, no matter how they feel, no matter what is happening around them.
We come to the empty tomb, to the new dawn, as ourselves, no matter who we are or how we feel. The empty tomb does not ask us to shed everything that weighs on our hearts ahead of time.
The empty tomb comes to us as the risen Jesus comes to us. The risen Jesus barges into our lives and calls us by name in love.
He says ‘I know you, I know who you are and everything you have been through, and all I have done – that has been for you and I will always walk with you’.
No matter your experiences of the last week, month, year, or decade, our risen God walks with us in all we experience and everywhere we go.
That is the power this day. Jesus bursts from the tomb filled with light and life, breaks forth into our broken and sometimes painful world redeeming it by his love, his faith and his salvation.
New life comes; it cannot be stopped. It meets us where we are and does not expect us to immediately be filled with joy. But when it comes, it brings to us the knowledge that every change, every sorrow, every hope, and everything we experience is held in the arms of the risen Christ.
Like those who were first to visit the empty tomb, we might be filled with bewilderment, stumble and feel like we cannot get back up, we might want to run or we might just feel we are sad. But like the Christ of the empty tomb, we will also rise. This is the promise of resurrection, this is the Easter joy.
Christ is with us. He is risen, risen indeed, alleluia!