April 1, 2018
All DayCategory: Adult Education
For many years I assumed that the stone was rolled away from his tomb so Jesus could get out. Then one Easter it dawned on me that Jesus didn’t need to have the stone moved. His resurrection body could pass through walls. The stone was rolled away so the women who came to the tomb could see in.
The women saw two men in dazzling clothes and an empty tomb, but their first reaction wasn’t the joy, celebration and triumph we usually associate with Easter. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. The men told them that Jesus had risen and to remember what Jesus had told them, of how all that had happened over the past few days would come to pass. Then the women remembered Jesus’ words, left the empty tomb, and told the others what they had seen.
The great preacher Fred Craddock captured the paralyzing power of fear:
“Why don’t you go out for the ball team?” “I’m afraid I won’t make it.”
“Why don’t you try out for the play?” “I’m afraid I won’t get a part.”
“Why did you lie to your parents?” “I was afraid of punishment.”
“Why were you so jealous?” “I was afraid of losing love.”
Fear of what the future holds can keep us from claiming the blessings of life that God sets before us. It can cause us to turn in on ourselves. On Easter God obliterated fear. Yes, we still have to be prudent. The Resurrection is not a reason to drive without wearing your seat belt, but when he conquered death, Jesus showed us that the future is in his hands. He is the one whose love and mercy took him to the Cross to die so we will live.
Occasionally I’ve led worship in nursing homes where a large portion of the congregation suffers from dementia. Some of the worshipers could no longer remember the names of their family members, but when we sang a favorite hymn or said the Lord’s Prayer or recited the Apostles’ Creed, their faces lit up and they remembered every word. Those memories, like the God they proclaim, are lasting and endure the ravages of the years.
All of our memories, good and bad, are important. They make up the story of our lives. But the memory that moves us forward is the memory of what Christ has done for us, the memory of his promise that something new is happening. And if our memories fail us, we know that God’s memory never fails. God remembers us in life and in death. Remember what he told us. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
Prayer: Lord of life, on Easter you claimed the future as yours. Overcome our fears. Help us remember your promise of abundant life and entrust each day to your unending love. In the name of the Risen Christ. Amen.
 Fred B. Craddock, Overhearing the Gospel (St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2002), p. 127.