From Easter Sunday’s Gospel of Luke we know that "You are witnesses of these things." Oh how we HAVE been witnesses of so many things. From pandemics and panics, to a Paschal Candle and His Precious Body & Blood/Soul and Divinity, we are most certainly witnesses of these things. But, even I have to admit there were moments I wondered if this day would really come for us...this day of Life, Death & Resurrection! We have witnessed so much of our lives being changed and distanced from what is our normal lives. We have been forced to witness the smell of death’s stale breath upon us, that has tried to steal away our very own breath from our families and nation, our world and even our Church.
We are witnesses of these things, life and so much death, from the chaotic crowds of Crucify Him, Crucify Him to the unseen whisper of a virus who has taken on the demeanor of the enemy...that insidious serpent whose only desire is to destroy our lives with disease and destruction and death. The only evil one who has always wanted to find yet another cruel way for us to pay the price for what we truly need, to be loved by our God who has never desired social or spiritual distancing...The Father who so loves the world...Who so loves you that He would send His only Son so that we might not perish...So that we might eat of His Body and drink of His Blood and have life eternal. But the evil one was wrong...and he lied. He thinks it’s only about taking away the life God created and making into death. He did not know the most important part, RESURRECTION! Not the price that we have to pay, but that Jesus Christ paid. It was the way it was always meant to be from the time that God first created all things out of darkness and chaos so He could see them as good. He made His favorite good, man and woman, just so they/we could be in His own image and walk with Him in the coolness of His Garden. He did not make us so that we would have to cower or cover up from any sin or sickness.
For so many, Easter has been disconnected from what is most essential. It was never about Easter baskets, bonnets, and bunnies. Yes, they might seem prettier to look at when we think all there is an empty tomb. But there is so much more. So, in these most uncertain times, cry out even louder with everything you have: ALLELUIA! Jesus Christ is truly Risen! Indeed, HE IS RISEN! That's THE reason why we CAN and MUST still celebrate bolder this year. There is no real battle between Easter and the pandemic, no matter what it may seem.
He has conquered all things through the Blood of the Cross, through His stripes we were healed! My favorite 2nd century homily says it best:
“Something strange is happening...The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear…Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light...I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. Rise let us leave this place!”
ALLELUIA! Happy Easter!