This is a year, perhaps more than any other, that we need the message of Easter. And by “the message of Easter,” I don’t mean the message that someday, far off in the future, God’s love will ultimately triumph and we all will live in peace and harmony in heaven with God. (That’s an important message for us to hear, too.) But this year, I think we need the good news that God meets us right here, in the midst of a broken world, offering new life and hope even now. 

We all know full well what a long year it has been. There has been much sadness and much struggle. The pandemic has kept us cooped up and separated from each other, and still today, many of us are worried about our loved ones. The divisions among us have been amplified along political, racial, and economic lines. We have had to deal with all the stress and anxiety of all the changes and trying to find a “new normal.” And even as it seems we are starting to see some relief, the uncertainty is still there, and the question is constantly there in front of us: “What’s next?” 

I think this is a bit of what the disciples were facing that first Easter. They were locked up in a room, scared and uncertain, wondering, “What’s next?” They were separated, not by a virus, but by fear of authorities, fear for their safety and the safety of their loved ones, fear that they no longer had their Lord with them to share his powerful words of love and forgiveness and to show them the way. 

Even the women, who were more courageous than the men, didn’t know what to think in those days. They were nervous as they took the long walk to Jesus’ grave. They were numb from the pain of watching him die, but they knew they had a job to do, bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body and pay their respects as they said goodbye. Still, you can almost sense the anxiety in their voices. “What are we going to do about the stone that is keeping us from our Lord?” And maybe their next question isn’t recorded, because it was caught in their throats along with their grief, “What’s next?” 

It was a difficult place to be. That place between Good Friday and Easter, between death and new life, not knowing what to think. But this is precisely the place where the Easter message showed up. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” said the angels at the tomb. “He is not here, but has risen!” 

Do you think the women believed those words when they heard them? Maybe not at first. It is hard to believe such words in the midst of the troubles of our world and in our lives. It is hard to comprehend such good news when we’re stuck in sadness and worry: that love does win, that death is not the end, that God’ has something more to offer us than the struggle we see right in front of us. But the rest of the story is that God did show up to them all: first to the doubting disciples on the road to Emmaus, then to the other 12 worried and afraid in their dark room, then to many other disciples in the next 50 days. And God has continued to show up in real ways to many others throughout the centuries: in the breaking of bread and prayer, in acts of kindness and compassion, as we love and forgive and support one another. And in places where we least expect him to be, Jesus keeps showing up, bringing light and life to us all. 

Have you seen him, too? The God who has been there throughout this past year, showing up for you and me, even in the midst of locked rooms, even in the midst of a world full of heartache and division and struggle? I’ve seen it, as people like you share in loving actions for one another and for our community, bringing compassion and hope and new life. Christ has been right there, with and for you and me. After all, we have a God who isn’t just there when we die and go to live in heaven. Our God is alive in you and me and in our world, right here and right now. So why look for the living Lord among the dead? Christ is here, breathing new life, right here, today. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia! 

Pastor Dane