Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Today on this most sacred day of the year we proclaim the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death. The tomb is emptied of its power to cause fear and anxiety in our lives. Jesus lives and his resurrection from the dead is the herald of a new day of joy and hope. New life begins as Jesus throws off the shrouds of death and goes forth into the new day. The world is created anew as the light of the Risen Christ shines forth into the darkness and calls forth life, new life, eternal life. “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1,3ff) Life came to be through Jesus, the Eternal Word, in creation and new and eternal life comes to be through Jesus in the resurrection. This life shines with the light of eternal day. No darkness can ever overcome it. The Eternal Word will not be silenced!
As the spice bearing women approach the tomb of Jesus, they see the angels resting on the rock that they have just rolled away so that the women can see the emptiness of death. Death will not be anointed on this new day for the tomb of Jesus is empty. He is not here. He has risen! Death has no sting. Come and see the place where he lay. Just hours before they had seen his lifeless body laid there and covered in the shroud of death. Now the burial cloths are neatly folded and set aside. Now their only purpose will be to testify to the resurrection of the one who’s image they hold but whose risen body they could not hold. If the women want to see Jesus they must also testify to the risen Christ and meet him in their daily lives as he will always be with them, going before them and leading them deeper and deeper into the fullness of life.
It has been a long Lent this year and every day we have listened to the news reports that speak only of illness and death. Every day we have hoped to hear something positive, something that puts an end to this sickness. There is a shadow of darkness that lies heavy on the world and we seem disheartened . We have been sequestered and distanced from one another. We are waiting for a new day when the light will again shine brightly upon the world. God is still with us and assuring us, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev 21,5) God will begin with our hearts. Now is the time to celebrate the new day in the Risen Christ. This new day must begin in our hearts which must be cleansed and prepared for him as a dwelling place, as a new temple of worship in the Spirit. Our hearts must be the Galilee where we go in haste to meet the Risen Lord. We have been in exile but the Lord has promised through the prophet Ezekiel: “For I will take you away from foreign lands, and bring you back to you own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees. You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ez 36,24-28)
This Easter we celebrate new life in our hearts and allow the light of the Risen Christ to shine through our hearts and out into the world. If we cannot gather in our churches to proclaim the Risen Lord then we need to meet him in our hearts and embrace him there. We need to discover the joy of our life in the Risen Christ and of our belonging to the Body of Christ. Sprinkle each other with holy water to cleanse your hearts and renew the promise of the new life of baptism in your heart. This year we truly need to have Easter hearts! As Nehemiah told the people of his day who were hearing the law of the covenant for the first time: “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” (Neh 8,10) Our rejoicing in the new life and the new covenant of love that has been sealed by the Spirit of the Risen Christ must be our strength during these difficult times. Today is a day for joyful hearts to be lifted up to the Lord in wonder and praise. Today Jesus Christ has risen and will soon find his way into your hearts.