He is Risen!

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace, be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

John 20:19–20

My brothers and sisters of St. Martin’s, in a few hours, we will offer a virtual Easter Service. This is unlike any Easter in our nearly 70-year history, but it is where we are and, for now, it is what I feel we are called to do. I will actually say a bit more about that in my Easter sermon.

For now, there is no reason not to greet this day with “ Alleluia ” on your lips and in your hearts. I hope you will say it now, “ Alleluia! He is Risen!” Our circumstances have changed, but the hope of this story has not.

In the last few weeks, my guess is that we have all exchanged prayers, devotionals, sermons, articles, words of insight and reflection, and videos that are moving and many that, even in this odd time, bring a smile. I confess, I have honestly gone on a bit of a ‘fast’ from it all. Yet, I am glad I waited until after I received the below from our member, Marthan Masterson Weaber. It has been making the rounds on the internet. From what I can tell, several individuals have taken credit for writing it. I am not doing that, but I am sharing it, as I think is has something to say:

“The very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space with singing and praising. On the very first Easter, the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women, that Jesus had risen. But, it seemed too good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes, their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?

“Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on the earth.

“This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that first Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say!

“This year we might get the closest taste we have had yet to what that first Easter was like.”

My friends, read that passage from John that I started with–read it once again–and let these words stand out. Let them sink into your hearts. Grab hold of the Risen Christ, grab hold of the hope there is in Him and grab hold of the assurance that soon, when this somewhat ‘extended’ Lent is over, we will come together under one roof, we will worship, sing, pray and praise, and we will greet one another with the words Jesus offered His disciples through Resurrected Lips,“ Peace be with you!”

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen, Indeed, Alleluia!
The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr.
Here, for your convenience, are the links to the videos Dr. Jean-Pierre Isbouts has so kindly provided to St. Martin’s for Holy Week.