We made! We made it to Easter!
Remember last Easter. Just a year ago we were canceling services, clumsily learning Zoom, saying goodbye to the physical presence of some folks not knowing that a year later many of us would still be isolated..
A year and just a few weeks ago we launched this new website. The message on the home page was "Fear Not!" I could not have dreamed when I wrote that message that it would remain on our welcome page for almost exactly a year.
But you may have noticed we have redesigned the home page. Gone is "fear not." Now there is a simple "Welcome." That "welcome" and a portrait of this historic church stand framed within a brilliant blue sky, filled with a bright sun.
This change in home-page design and perspective does not mean the pandemic is over. It does not mark an immediate change back to "normal."
The Miracle that Is Easter
Rather, it symbolizes the miracle that is Easter. We are experiencing a new reality, no longer defined by death, but by life; no longer marked by darkness and isolation, but by light and presence.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Then they quickly reported all these instructions to those around Peter. After this, Jesus himself also sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.
The passage in Mark speaks to our situation during the first week of April, 2021. After all, there is still danger from a mutating virus. Over half a million fellow-Americans have perished since last year's Easter blog. Like the women at the tomb we are still afraid, or at least unsure. We see signs of recovery, and many of us have been vaccinated, but we don't have a clear picture of the future, and that worries us. And while all of this is happening, there is all the regular stuff of life to attend to.
So, what do we do? We, like the women at the tomb, go forward, even in our fear. Easter came, and we have work to do. In fact we have new work to do, much of which we don't even know yet. Some of which we might not even imagine yet. But, because of our faith in the risen Lord, we have work to do.
Cold and Quiet, This Place
Cold and quiet
This place of death
But there was work to be done
They had to act
But had no plan to move the stone
Not so much
An act of faith
But desperation drove them on
Distraction melted into fear
The body gone
The message simple
He is not here
His promise now had been fulfilled
But now the fear
Entwined with awe
Drove them from the messenger
Back into the cold and quiet
New work to do
In this no longer place of death
Photo by Ed Nirenstein.
Poetry by Russell E. Willis