Summary: Easter is a living message of hope from the other side of the grave.
An Illinois man left Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him the next day. When he reached his hotel he decided to send his wife a quick
e-mail. Unable to find the scrap of paper on which he had written her e-mail address, he did his best to type it from memory.
Unfortunately, he missed one letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher’s wife, whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her e-mail, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor dead.
At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:
Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.
Your Loving Husband.
P.S: Sure is hot down here.
> What could be more powerful than news from the other side of death ? Easter is that and more.
· Not an email message, but a living message.
· Not from man, but from God.
· Not from hell, but from heaven.
It’s GOOD NEWS !
Easter Sunday… the day we gather to celebrate that the stone which sealed the life and love of God has been rolled away…that our hopes are alive in the resurrection of Jesus.
God’s Word speaks of this hope as “an anchor for the soul.” It is often the unspoken strength that allows us to rise each day and face the uncertainties of life.
In the midst of our losses and let downs, we can anchor our souls with divine strength. The hope of Easter isn’t the hope of a naïve fool or nagging optimist, it’s hope that meets us in the real world.
For as was read earlier from the Gospel of John (John 20:1, 11-18 NLT) … OUR STORY DOESN’T BEGIN IN THE LIGHT OF DAY.
IT BEGINS AT DAWN WHEN IT’S STILL DARK… A PLACE FAR LESS CLEAR… FAR MORE PERSONAL.
It begins with an individual…Mary….Perhaps as fascinating and encouraging as anything God chooses to do… He focuses the greatest events…events of cosmic proportions…on ordinary individuals.
· Not what you’d call your traditionally religious person. She was from the city of Magdala along the sea of Galilee… and may have had a wealthy background…. but nothing could protect her from the harsh realities of the world.
· She was a women in a world that found woman a good scapegoat on which to place it’s shame…somehow more easily separated from God… there was little acceptability to hope on her own.
· And as many come to find…the most oppressive powers aren’t just cultural and political, they are personal and spiritual. Tradition has always had it that Mary was a scarlet sinner. She had become oppressed by spiritual powers that bound her within.
This was before the day that a new presence came to town…a presence that proved more powerful
than all the powers around her and within her. Jesus had come to town and saw into her soul… and cast those powers out… seven demonic powers. He had done something for her that no one else could ever do, and she could never forget. No one ever loved Jesus so much as Mary Magdalene.
The part that love plays in this story is extraordinary. It was Mary, who loved Jesus so much, who was first at the tomb.
She comes in love… but ALSO IN DARKNESS; not just the darkness of the sky, but the darkness of her soul. Her love may have been strong but her hope couldn’t see anything left to hold onto. He was gone and the world without him was dark… dark around her … dark within her.
> Easter begins where life on this planet finds us…
· a world not always safe and sane and satisfying;
· a world where the love of family and friends can fall short… prove frail and fragile;
· a world where people we love leave us far too soon.
> Easter enters just such a world. The love of God is a deep love that seeks us in the darkness. Not the love of fairy tales or forced devotion… but a love that reaches into the real world.
If you’ve ever found it hard to see that love… you can appreciate Mary.
Easter begins with one whose hopes appear sealed in the harsh reality of a tomb… and whose expectations are once again left in a natural world. Even when she arrives and finds the huge stone somehow removed from the cave like tomb… what does she think? Two things may have entered her mind. She may have thought that the Jews had taken away Jesus’s body; that, not satisfied with killing him on a cross, they were inflicting further indignities on him. Or there were ghoulish creatures who made it their business to rob tombs; and Mary may have thought that this had happened here. She couldn’t perceive of anything more.