An excerpt from one of my favorite books by Brennan Manning:
"It was early on a Sunday morning as the sun began to streak across the eastern sky. Jesus’ body still lay stiff, when all at once, his chest began to heave. Then, his hand slowly reached up and removed the covering from his face. His eyes adjusted slowly to the darkness. He stood on shaky legs and walked slowly out of the tomb. Once outside he breathed in fresh air, thrilled at this new experience. And then, he turned, and looked up to the hilltop where he saw three empty crosses. He smiled and winked – and walked away." - Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus: On the Pages of Our Lives (Portland, Or.: Multnomah, 1992), 232-233.
This is the promise of, and the hope we have, in Jesus' resurrection, which we gather across the world this Sunday to celebrate. Jesus defeated death. Jesus arose victorious. Life, not death, had the last word. However, this day, being Good Friday, is a day we must acknowledge Jesus' brutal death and seemingly, defeat, on the cross, in addition to our own role (our sinfulness) in it. While difficult to acknowledge this and even consider, it's necessary, if we are to fully understand, embrace, and experience the depth of the joy and forgiveness that comes with resurrection in only three short days.
On this somber day and night, I remind you of Paul's bold and confident proclamation he made in the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Church at Corinth. They are also words that I share boldly at every graveside internment service before laying the deceased to rest.
“Death has been swallowed up by Life! Who got the last word, oh Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? In a single, victorious stroke of Life – sin, guilt, shame, bitterness, rejection, and death – are all gone! A gift to us
from our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
-1 Corinthians 15:51-57
This Easter Sunday, invite a friend, coworker, neighbor or family member to join you at worship at Saint Paul Lutheran, as together we "smile and wink at the empty cross." And be sure to bring enough lawn or camping chairs for everyone!!
On another note, we will also celebrate with two of our young men this Sunday. Samuel Tyler Kroschel and Adam John Stoyke will be receiving their First Communion! Please join me in praying for and celebrating with these families on this special day.
See you in church!