Day Forty: Friday, July 31st, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 28
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Because he lives”
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb where Jesus had been so recently buried. It was now the third day. An angel appeared from heaven and going to the tomb, “Rolled back the stone and sat on it.” The appearance of the angel frightened the guards so badly they became like dead men. The women were probably filled with fear as well. But their fear did not last, for the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” He is risen. Those three words hold the promise of our faith. Death is not the victor. The evil arms of sin are not wrapped around us. And the devil does not have dominion. Jesus is risen. Thus, he tells his disciples as this wonderful gospel of good news comes to an end, “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Jesus is risen, and Jesus is Lord! Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest!
We missed something this year that should not be missed. We missed something that is a foundation of our faith. We missed a great day of celebration. We missed Easter…at least Easter as we know it. We did not gather together to have that mighty call and response that fills our sanctuary with the sound of triumph.
The call goes out on Easter Sunday…HE IS RISEN!
The congregation roars back in response…HE IS RISEN INDEED!
We missed that this year. Even so, the resurrection is just as real as always. The resurrection meets frightened women, calming their fears and sending them out to tell others. The resurrection meets disciples with the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” The resurrection meets you and it meets me with the good news that Jesus Christ is alive…Jesus Christ is still alive…Jesus Christ is still our Lord…and Jesus Christ is still at work in our world to bring healing and hope to all people.
Since we missed celebrating Easter as a family of faith this year, let us bring this 40 day study of the Gospel of Matthew to a close with some of the treasured words that fill our Easter service of worship with such joy, with such wonder, with such awe, and with such hope.
- Were you there when he rose up from the grave? Were you there when he rose up from the grave? Sometimes, I feel like shouting “Glory! Glory! Glory!” Were you there when he rose up from the grave?
- Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia! Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia! Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia! Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!
- Thine is the glory, Risen, conquering Son; endless is thy victory Thou o’er death has won.
- Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign; He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
And one final hymn that speaks of how the resurrection is so much more than a distant event tied to ancient Palestine. The resurrection of Jesus gives us the power to live today.
“God sent his Son, they called him Jesus, He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon, An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
Because he lives I can face tomorrow, Because he lives all fear is gone; Because I know he holds the future. And life is worth the living just because he lives.” (Because He Lives, Bill Gaither)
Because Jesus lives we can face tomorrow. And because he lives we have hope for this very day.
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
“Garret Keizer, a minister in Vermont, tells of conducting an Easter vigil in his little church.
Only two people show up for the service, but Keizer nonetheless lights the paschal candle and says the prayer. ‘The candle sputters in the half darkness like a voice too embarrassed or overwhelmed to proclaim the news that Christ is risen…but it catches fire, and there we are,
three people and a flickering light in an old church on a Saturday evening in the spring, with the noise of cars and their winter rusted mufflers outside. The moment is filled with ambiguities of all such quiet observances among few people, in the midst of an oblivious population in a radically secular age. The act is so ambiguous because its terms are so extreme: either the Lord is with us, or we are pathetic fools.’ So it is always with the church. WE take a fragmentary community, a fragmentary faith, a fragmentary understanding of the Trinitarian God, and we go into the world with everything Jesus has taught us. Either the Lord is with us and all authority has been given to Christ, or we are indeed pathetic fools.” (Tom Long, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3, p. 49…quoting Keizer, A Dresser of Sycamore Trees). So we come to the end of the gospel of Matthew. Perhaps some consider people of faith to be pathetic fools. But we have this great assurance: Jesus Christ is with us now, and forever, even unto the end of the
age. Receiving this good news let us go into all the world making disciples in his name.