Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.” The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him.
Matthew 28:1-9 NLT
On Sunday of Holy Week…everything changed. The stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. Death had turned to new life. Mourning to dancing. Grief to rejoicing. And sin to salvation.
This is why we celebrate. It is why we care about the story at all. It is why we sing and study and pray.
Because Jesus loved us enough to die. Because Jesus loved us enough to live..in order that we might live forever.
Christ is risen! Christ risen indeed.
I have written more than once about how difficult the work of ministry can be. And it is true, there are times when this work is back-breaking, both physically and spiritually. But today is not one of those days (in fact, this whole week has not been one of those weeks). You see, the reverse is also true. There are times when ministry is all party, party, party. There are times when my JOB is to simply be present with people and celebrate, and today has been that kind of day.
After a morning in the office, my partner in ministry, the Rev. Geoff Ross and I headed to a local golf club. There was an unbelievable feast laid out for us and other members of the clergy in Brampton, sponsored by Ward Funeral Home. The Brampton Ministerial was having its Christmas luncheon. The food was delicious and overwhelming in its abundance.
Then this evening our WMS (Women’s Missionary Society) met for their Christmas Potluck, and the members of the clergy in our congregation were invited to be there. I admit – my belly is full and I have used some of my extra Weight Watchers points today. But you know what – my soul is full, too.
At both celebrations Christmas carols were sung with great gusto. It is good to celebrate with others who share our faith.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
Isaiah 9:2 NLT
That’s what Jesus means. We were in the dark, but now the light has come. We have gone from worry and despair to rejoicing and celebration. We are meant to live as people who know what it is like to be in the dark, and more importantly, know what it is like to be delivered from the dark.
So may your days be full of celebration. Whether marked by abundance or observed more quietly, may you rejoice with those around you. May you truly know what it means to have found deliverance and salvation.