An Easter Homily from the Rt. Rev. L. Errol Brooks
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, on this glorious Easter Day we rejoice with the Psalmist “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”, and again “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord” (Ps. 118:17). Psalm 118 not only resounds through every Easter morning but repeats the liturgy of the Palms the week before. The one who has entered through the gates of righteousness to shouts of “Hosanna” (Ps. 118:25) now sings of victory over death and thanksgiving for Salvation. Psalm 118 is for singing! The Hymn writer, Isaac Watts thought so and paraphrased it for singing on Easter Day.” This is the day the Lord hath made. The hours are all God’s own; let heaven rejoice, let earth be glad, and praise surround the throne.” This is indeed the day that the Lord has made – and it is amazing.
Apart from this powerful psalm, Ps 118), the Lectionary for Easter Day offers a choice of Gospel readings. While St. John’s Gospel Chapter (20 : 1-18) may be read in Years A, B and C, in Year A the option is given to use St. Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 28:1-10. It is the latter that I would like us to turn our thoughts this day.
At dawn on the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and Mary wife of Cleopas went to Jesus’ tomb. When they approached the area of the tomb, there was a violent earthquake, underscoring the apocalyptic nature of the event. An Angel appeared and rolled back the stone at the entrance. The guards who had been posted there by the Governor, Pontius Pilate, shook with fear and were immobilized. The Angel said to the women, “Jesus is not here, for he has been raised (Matthew 28:6) just as he had foretold. As proof of this astonishing news, the angel told them to see for themselves that the tomb was empty. That is the glorious news of Easter – the tomb is empty! We serve a risen Lord!.
The angel then gave the women a message to take to the disciples. He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him.
As the women ran “with fear and great joy” to tell the others, they met Jesus face to face. They fell down and grabbed his feet, and worshipped him. The proper response to the Risen Lord is to worship him. Jesus told the women not to be afraid and repeated the message that the disciples were to meet him in Galilee.
Jesus and the angel gave Good News to the women at the tomb. On this Easter Day, I declare to you the same two part message.
First, don’t be afraid. This is hard for us anxious people to accept. There are so many things which cause us to be anxious – health, the aging process, family relationships, climate change, the fast changing and frightening world, the threats of war, the displacement of people, religious intolerance, the penchant for “alternative facts” - the list goes on and on. However, there is good reason for us to take courage. The risen Christ has defeated the Evil one. The final enemy, death, has been conquered. The final victory of Christ in this world is no longer in doubt. The resurrection gives us a glimpse of the final scene on the world’s history. We have a preview of the last act of the human drama: every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. All those things which cause us to be afraid will be removed.
The Resurrection message is that the final victory belongs to Christ and His people. Easter assures us that Christ has won the victory over sin and death. So, do not be afraid of tomorrow and the days thereafter! The Lamb has won!.
The second message of Jesus, backed up by the Angel, is this: Jesus will be our guide on Life’s road.
Jesus told the women to inform the disciples that he was going ahead of them to Galilee and would meet them there. Jesus is always out in front of his followers, paving the way, filtering the future. The challenge for us is to seek to discern where he is at work and to join him!
Jesus has promised to be with us always even to the end of the age.. No matter the dangers ahead, He was willing to walk into the jaws of hell to bring redemption. He still stands out in front of us, preparing us, beckoning us, challenging us.
“Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you.
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you. (2nd verse of Hymn “Be not dismayed what’er betide”)
Jesus will meet you at every fork in the road. If you trust Him and ask for his guidance, He will direct your path. In Proverbs 3:6 we read “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.” When life breaks your heart, Jesus is there, saying, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28), Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.” (Ps. 55:22), Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)
The Easter Good News is that we must not fear the future. Jesus owns it and wants to accompany us into it. In His company we will be more than conquerors! Move out this day and into the future with the Risen Christ. All will be well. All must be well!
A Blessed Easter to you all!
Your friend and Bishop
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