Pilgrimage - Easter Sunday
April 12, 2020
Mighty God, in whom we know the power of redemption,
you stand among us in the shadows of our time.
As we move through every sorrow and trial of this life,
uphold us with knowledge of the final morning when,
in the glorious presence of your risen Son, we will share in his resurrection, redeemed and restored to the fullness of life
and forever freed to be your people. Amen.
Reprinted from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers,
copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts.
Scripture Luke 24.1–9 nrsv
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
“You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” You might remember this quote from Jesus cited in last Wednesday’s devotion. Jesus said it to Peter, regarding Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet on the last night before the crucifixion. In other words, there is more than meets the eye than a simple act of cleanliness. The Lord was humbling himself in an act of self-giving service, which also extended further than foot washing and included Jesus total submission without resistance to the forces of sin, betrayal, rejection, violence, and death. At that point in the story, Peter had little idea of what was to come. “You do not know now what I am doing.”
On this Easter Day almost 2000 years later we know a lot more about what Jesus did, and we have some fairly good ideas about the effects and significance of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day. Jesus accepted the challenge of sin and death: ‘Death means you’re dead; end of story; no ifs, ands or buts.’ In the Resurrection, Jesus’ establishes once-and-for-all that sin is not the boss in God’s world, death is not the end but is a new beginning, and that God reigns supreme and graciously over earth and heaven. Thanks be to God!
What more could we want than Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death? Still, we ought to hold on to Jesus’ words to Peter: we do not know or understand fully what Jesus has done and continues doing. Once we convince ourselves we know it all, we risk shutting our eyes to further revelation and insight.
The full power of the Resurrection and how it brings about forgiveness and salvation are part of the divine mystery of it all. We keep hold of the notion that there remains much we do not yet know about what Jesus is doing, while trusting that it is still good and glorious for us. While our lives and world are not entirely free from the effects of sin, we are rightly expectant that more of God’s redeeming work is yet to be realized.
I wish we were all together today to sing our favorite Easter hymns, to share Easter’s joy with one another. The wonderful thing is, Jesus Christ is risen even if we are not gathered in church to say our hurrahs! Social distancing or stay-at-home orders do not prevent and cannot stop Christians from responding faithfully to the marvelous news of the Resurrection – loving God, loving one another through lives of kindness, mercy, forgiveness, servanthood, and trust in God’s grace.
And when the day comes we can gather together again without posing too much risk to each other’s health, we will still be able to sing our hearts out:
Every day for us is Easter / with its resurrection song.
When in trouble move the faster / to our God who rights the wrong.
Alleluia! Alleluia! / See the power of heavenly throngs!
- William M. James, 1979
Invitation to Prayer
- giving thanks for God’s grace in Jesus Christ;
- for healing and caring yet to be done
- for safety of all people from illness and disease;
- for wisdom and guidance in our response to COVID-19