ELCA Presiding Bishop's 2004 Easter Message

( [email protected] ) Mar 25, 2004 02:55 PM EST

"As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, 'Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.'" (Mark 16: 5-7)

For many today, the future seems to hold no hope. Time moves on, yet our lives feel immobilized by the weight of suffering and sorrow. We long for a sense of direction but are uncertain of whom to follow and where to go. Could it have been so for the women who went to Jesus' tomb that Easter morning?

Not long before, they had left familiar Galilee to follow Jesus. Inspired by his words, astonished by his deeds, filled with hope, yet increasingly alarmed by his talk of coming suffering and death, they followed as day after day Jesus pressed ahead. They had come to what seemed the end of the road -- a final resting place for both Jesus and their hopes, a cold stone chamber built for tears and silence.

But the grave is alarmingly open. A mysterious messenger speaks. The tomb rings with good news and promise! Their journey is not over after all. Once again Jesus is ahead, still leading the way. The women are sent to call the other disciples to follow anew, this time to Galilee -- a homeland no longer familiar but suddenly strange, awash in resurrection light.

The Crucified and Risen One also goes ahead of us. Even now Christ unsettles us with the call to the way of the cross, leading us not out of the world but straight to the heart of its brokenness and suffering. Even now Jesus unsettles us with the news that death has not had the last word, that the Resurrected One is on the loose and that he calls us to follow.

How differently every day and every corner of the world appear when we see them as places where Christ has already been. Every sorrow, wrong and injustice leap out of the shadows into sharp and painful focus: here, precisely here, we see the Crucified one. But the light in which we see Christ's presence is that of Easter's dawn -- full of promise, charged with life, blazing with the very love of God who makes all things new. We are gifted with a world rich with significance and with lives that are holy callings.

For the Crucified One is risen. Christ bids us follow!