“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:8-10 (NIV)
Since Christmas, our Sunday evening community Youth Group at the church has been averaging about ten pre-teens, in Grades 4 through 8. The nights are lively and full of energy…and sometimes the unexpected! Recently, around some activities I had an informal chit-chat with several of them. The conversation revolved around being along, in a building, and the presence of ghosts, obviously ideas that caused them some anxiety and fearfulness. They were amazed that sometime I work by myself in the church building and their list of imaginary things that might happen to me was quite long! In response, I chatted with them about being by myself, but not alone, as I believed Jesus was here present with me, and everyone slse, who was here in the building. While I couldn’t see Jesus with my eyes, I experienced Jesus’ presence in calm, in strength to do hard things, in the ability to care about others. I told them I often thought about all the people through the years who found the church building to be a place of joy and of comfort, of fellowship and friendship, of learning and special times, like we experience week by week at Youth Group. As a grown-up, these thoughts are more important to me than thoughts about the building being empty and haunted by imaginary ghosts.
The youth attending the Youth Group aren’t the only people who live in a world where there is anxiety and fearfulness about being alone and facing scary, often unknown things. It’s the truth about us all, for our lives unfold in a broken, imperfect and vulnerable world. Yet, as people who gather around Jesus, and in faith, seek to honor him in our lives, there is a better story that can speak to our lives. This better story is the good news that God is redeeming our world and our lives in divine love. In Jesus Christ, God’s power of healing and change and transformation is realized in everyday, human living, even amidst the unknown and the scary.
Long ago, on the Sunday following Jesus’ death on the cross, some women go to the tomb site where to their surprise they face something totally new and unexpected. They find the tomb stone rolled back and see a heavenly visitant, an angel. The angel speaks to them, tells them not to be afraid and that Jesus has risen to new life. For the women, this must have been a mind-blowing encounter. As they go on their way to tell Jesus’ disciples what they’ve discovered, they suddenly meet Jesus before them. Somehow they recognize him; they kneel down, clasp his feet and worship him. This is no ghost before them, but a loving presence who reassures them and entrusts them to carry a message to his disciples. It is a message of life and of a continuing relationship, even as Jesus has been transformed by God’s power into a new way of being present in human life and living. In this most unusual unfolding of events, in the face of human vulnerability and fearfulness, there is divine reassurance and empowerment…from the angel at the tomb to Jesus along the way.
Easter is God’s gracious gift to us, for we are in need of hearing this better story of newness, transformation and power amidst the uncertainty, the turmoil and the fearfulness that often swirls around us in our living. We face pressures in the workplace; we face anxiety around medical tests; we face loneliness as loved ones move or pass away; we face deep disappointments in our living with others; we face agitation as the rate of change around us continues to pick up speed fearfully leaving us behind. God’s work in Jesus gives us a different place to root our lives. In Jesus we are not alone. God’s love for us gives our lives purpose and direction. In this less then perfect world in which we make our home, God’s power and strength reassures us not to be afraid as we face the unknown, the uncertain and the new.
The enclosed leaflet invites you to be a part of Easter-story happenings here in the community of Sydney Miens. If you live elsewhere, may you be encouraged to worship where you live. A reminder that if you wish to receive the weekly bulletin electronically from St. Andrew’s, that includes the order of service and up-coming events, you may do so simply by making a request to our Bulletin Editor, Donalda Andrews – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a blessed Easter
Rev. Marion Barclay MacKay (Minister)