Easter 2014: “Do Not Be Afraid”

Matthew 28:1-10

Can you imagine what it was like walking up to the tomb on that first Easter?

Numb.

Denial.

Doubt.

Grief.

Yes, all of those things. But I think chief amongst all those emotions must have been fear. Fear for what was going to happen next. Fear of what was going to happen now that Jesus was gone Fear for their own lives. And then, fear went from something that was prompted by hypotheticals to something very real: this incredible scene unfolding before them.

“Do not be afraid” the angel said. Yeah, right. Petrified Roman centurions—the same soldiers that inspired fear in others were afraid. And if THEY were afraid, I think the two Mary’s had a right to be afraid. “Do not be afraid at this fantastical experience? How could they not be anything but?

Nonetheless, these were the words that greeted the Mary’s on that first Easter. And almost as if either they did not hear it enough to internalize or since what they had experienced had been so much, this same admonition–do not be afraid–were the first instructions Jesus gave, as well.

Before that Easter morning, all they knew was that their worst nightmare, the inconceivable came true. But that worst fear, most dreaded nightmare was rendered powerless. Just when it looked like all evidence was to the contrary, love won.

Indeed, love is still winning.

Just like the Mary’s, because of Easter, we don’t have to be afraid anymore, for ever. The burden and even, sometimes, privilege of fear are no longer viable options for us.

To put it another way, Alyce McKenzie tells us we don’t have to come afraid to something, expecting death when we have been promised life. Now she was was saying why were the attendees of the that first Easter afraid when Jesus only did what he said he would do.

In our life, the reality of Easter, of our celebrations of love and life being more powerful and more compelling than the entropic entity which is death means we no longer need to be afraid.

Jesus lives!

Whether its :

  • hearing the comforting word of the worst thing that happens to us isn’t the last thing that happens to us or
  • the reality that in the darkest parts of our lives, we do not have to be alone.
  • That the powers and principalities… people and institutions that wield power over us… do not hold ultimate sway.

We have hope.

  • That Jesus died our death.
  • That the dread that is our worst selves will win the day is over and that the God-inspired part of us that is more hopeful, more optimistic, and lives towards a greater ideal can come to the forefront.

However you need to hear it, however you need to approach it, hear this, hear it clear, and receive it as an amazing, loving gift:

do. not. be. afraid.

I found these words by Julia Esquivel appropriate for this day:

They have threatened us with Resurrection
because they are more alive than ever before,
because they transform our agonies
and fertilize our struggle,
because they pick us up when we fall,
because they loom like giants
before the crazed gorillas’ fear.

The threats no longer loom over us.

Truly, threats no longer loom over us. God’s love in Jesus abides, instead. That’s not to say that there won’t be difficult days, that there won’t be challenges, that there won’t be set backs. That is not what Jesus promised. He told Mary to tell the disciples to continue there journey and he will meet up with them.

And this news is just too good to keep to ourselves.

Just like the angel’s said do not be afraid. We have the joyous opportunity to tell the world that it does not have to be afraid, either. There’s so much people could fear, especially if we let it gain its own momentum, if we stay silent to the good news that Mary heard, the good news Mary told.

But as we have received good news, we also get share this same invitation to live into a life which is far better. We get to share, are Soren Kiekegegaard put it  “God’s presence is the decisive thing that changes all.” And it has transformed death into life. Dread into love. Fear into hope.

Christ is Risen.

Christ is risen, indeed.