What compels us to move through fear toward joy?
While I contemplated this question this week, I did what modern people do when wrangling with life’s more weighty questions — I asked my Facebook friends what they thought. Answers were varied … and profound. One person said that they would need the extended hand of a trusted friend. Another talked about living each day confronting our own mortality so that may live joyfully in the present moment. Others talked about the roles that love, hope, faith and trust in God play in our joyfulness.
After feeling an earthquake and witnessing the angel’s declaration of Jesus’ resurrection, the two Marys, in Matthew’s account of the resurrection, “left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (NRSV) Most of us have heard this story so many times that we probably gloss over these details. Moving past the fear and into joy was no small feat for two grieving women who have just experienced an earthquake and the sighting of an angel whose “appearance was like lightning.” (NRSV)
In the paralyzing grip of fear, we most urgently needed both God and each other. We rely most heavily on God’s unfailing love and find in ourselves the ability to see how grace, hope and faith burst forth. Perhaps this is why both of the Marys came to the tomb that morning. They may have needed each other to face the despair of the grave, the fear of the earthquake and the joyous revelation that Jesus had indeed returned. Without each other, they may not have been able to run down the path and then encounter the risen Christ himself, who reminds them, just as the angel did, NOT to be afraid.
As resurrection people, we are called to move through fear and into the joy of the risen Christ. This venture is not something we do alone; we do it with our sisters and brothers in Christ.
So, rest assured that staff and all the people of the Iowa Conference UCC and beyond are holding out their hands toward each of you in the face of fear. My brothers and sisters, move into the joy that can only be felt when we are rooted in the unsurpassed love of God.
Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!