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Easter Day

Sunday, April 12, 2020

with Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of Canada

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Matthew 28:1-10 – The Women Meet Jesus at the Tomb

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

Easter Reflection based on Matthew 28:1-10

Have you ever had a surprise so powerful that it takes your breath away? For a moment your world is suspended as you try to make sense of what is happening because it is not what you had expected. A truly surprise party or an unexpected gift, or a shocking event or natural disaster, can all leave us in disbelief – sometimes even between life and death. I recall sitting in a bible study on a hillside in the Himalayas of India wondering why someone was shaking the bench I was seated on. When I looked up and saw the surprised faces of everyone in the room I knew we were in the middle of an earthquake. Nothing was safe – nothing was certain as we were suspended between life and death.  

I imagine that the women at the tomb had that kind of shocking suspended moment when they saw the angel in the tomb, suspended between the expectation of the body of Jesus and this unexpected possibility of something unimaginable – he is not dead but alive! No wonder they left the tomb in both fear and joy, suspended between their expectation of reality and this possibility that even death is not absolute, a joy that, as their minds race with this possibility, they dare to believe. And then they meet the risen Jesus! No longer suspended in between death and life, they know, “He is Risen – The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia”.   

This is the foundation of our faith. If we believe, with the disciples, that death cannot win then there is nothing more powerful than God and God’s love in and through us. Fear is banished for there is nowhere that is not with God.    With St. Paul, ‘I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:38-39)

With that freedom from fear, a deep, abiding joy that nothing can shatter, lives in our souls – a joy that demands to be shared. The women leave Jesus to run and tell their fellow disciples. They in turn will tell everyone they meet. The power of this life continues to ignite hope in the darkest places and transform the lives of many. This joy gives me strength for the times of discouragement or pain or despair which rise in and around me.  

It is this same joy that gives life through the work of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund. This joy faces the places where fear and suffering scar God’s world and proclaims through words and actions that new life is possible. Whether through the provision of a cow that provides milk that gives income that purchases electricity and a water pump that then allows a daughter to go to school …or through microloans to assist indigenous youth to set up a business that builds resilience and dignity… or through supporting maternal health that gives children the best chance to grow…  We defeat fears and bring new life to people as they move from death to life!

This world is not yet fully under God’s reign. We do still experience the brokenness of a world of sin and suffering. Sorrow and mourning and pain are still in our midst. But we face them with the truth that we have nothing to fear. God’s love is stronger than death. In Christ we have a joy that carries us in hope and sends us out into the world to be and share this good news shouting: 

Alleluia, The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!!