I always laugh to myself when someone in the bible says something like “Do not be alarmed, or do not be afraid…” that’s usually a cue that whatever is happening should indeed cause us to be afraid…
But here’s the thing about Easter morning… Jesus has been raised from the dead. The young man that Mary Magdalene and the other women encounter is proclaiming THE good news that Jesus has been raised from the dead… do not be alarmed… do not be afraid… and of course, they are very afraid.
The last few days they have watched Jesus, beloved teacher and friend walk in shame to be tortured and executed as a criminal who was an enemy to the empire and its earthly power. Jesus was dead and placed in a tomb with all of their hopes and all of their love for him… and now the women come to do the last act of love; to prepare him for his burial. He is not here… he has been raised; raised by God who has been forever faithful in his love for all God’s people; the covenant between God and his people has been fulfilled; what we could not do ourselves, Jesus has done. New life has come to all of creation; all, of creation; to all people everywhere in every time and place; and in his rising, all of the hope and the love that the women and the disciples have has been transformed; no longer is the hope of God’s people a hope that brings military might, but it is a hope that brings justice, equality, peace, dignity, forgiveness, love… to all of God’s people. Jesus has descended to hell and risen victorious so that death cannot have the final word. Love, the truest love that IS God has overcome sin and death so that you and I are forgiven and so that our death is only a stopping place along the way to eternal life with God. We are never alone… And as the women left the tomb in amazement, we too leave the tomb behind in amazement, and in joy, and in gratitude that our God loves enough to bring the kingdom of God to earth… as we pray each day, ‘your kingdom come, YOUR will be done, on EARTH as it is in heaven”. Beloved, this is the day. This is the day that you and I go from this place in amazement and joy and the gospel story continues; this is the day when we who are the new creation go out into the world to bring about God’s kingdom… because we no longer have anything to fear. Jesus is alive, here and now. Death no longer has a hold on him, and in his cross, everything has been made new. Do not be alarmed; be amazed! In our words and in our deeds let us go into the world proclaiming that Jesus has been raised from the dead. May all that we do this and every day proclaim that truth, and may we do those things that he has done to bring the kingdom of God here on earth, knowing that we have nothing to fear. May the justice, peace, and love of God reign in our hearts, in our words, and in our actions, so that all people everywhere may know that Jesus Christ is risen… and that, makes all the difference.
Alleluia, Christ is risen.