Summary: Without a viewpoint which holds together both the pain of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, caregivers risk being overwhelmed and burning out.

Easter Sunday

The difference Easter makes

"At the death of Nikita Khrushchev, the former leader of the Soviet Union many years ago, a humorous story circulated in political circles. The Communist party that had cast Mr. Khrushchev aside was uncomfortable with the idea of burying his body on Soviet soil.

They first called the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, and asked if the U.S. would take Khrushchev’s corpse. Nixon had his own problems at the time and declined.

Then the Soviet leaders tried Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel. Mrs. Meir was agreeable but she added a note of caution. “I must warn you,” she said, “that this country has the world’s highest resurrection rate.”

Well, she was right—Israel does have the world’s highest resurrection rate. In case you’re curious—the world’s highest resurrection rate is one person, Jesus of Nazareth. And that is why we are here today.

Sheila Cassidy, in her book, Sharing the Darkness, about the pastoral care of the dying, summarizes this as developing a "paschal overview." Without a viewpoint which holds together both the pain of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, caregivers risk being overwhelmed and burning out.

Yes, we live in a world of terrorism, disease and death. But, there in the Easter Garden the world changes. The world is one where miracles and wonders happen, where life is stronger than death. As William Sloan Coffin says, "It is wonderful to know that despite appearances to the contrary, this is an Easter world."

Hope is our greatest gift to the world. If we have understood this story properly--from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, then we will realize that, with the grace of God, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that cannot be overcome.

This feast is not just about Jesus' resurrection, but also our own. It is about the way God touches what is dead within us, or our family, or our friends, or our Church, or our world, and brings it back to life--not the old life but a new one. For this to happen we need patience, trust, and above all, hope. The resurrection didn't happen the same day as the crucifixion. It took a little time. If we are patient, if we trust, and if we live in hope, the God of life will act. Sometimes spectacularly, but mostly in gentle and modest way, God draws out from within us a hidden life which we scarcely dream we even possess.

Because if you could know that everything was going to turn out o.k. in the end . . . would that calm your fears? Easter is the only time of year when it’s perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket!

So much is out of our control, it's not out of God's. He will give the power to face it. Philippians 4:13 says: "I'm ready for anything through the strength of Christ, who lives in me."

I heard about a church organist who overslept one Easter morning. She said, "The service was scheduled for 6:30. At 6:31, the minister called to see if I was coming. Since I live near the church, I was at the organ by 6:45. Then, a year later on Easter morning my phone rang at 5:45. When I answered, I heard the minister announce: 'Christ is risen! And you'd better rise, too!'"

Our Second Reading from from Colossians 3:1, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above.”

So how can we set our minds on things above and beyond death? We cannot, except the God who raised Jesus from the dead also picks us up, and raises us to everlasting life.

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