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Easter: Fear & Joy


Bible reading: Matthew 28:1-10 NIV

It’s Holy Week in the Christian calendar. Good Friday and Easter approach. Like those at the tomb, we know something of living in the extremes of fear and joy, what with the new realities of life (in a worldwide pandemic). Fear dominates this part of the resurrection story (Matthew 28): the earth trembles in a mind-bending earthquake; the ostensibly fearless, hulky guards are so afraid they faint; the women are frightened by the angel, and then just as they attempt a quick getaway from the tomb, they are greeted by the ghost of their dead friend Jesus. It isn’t the tulips and lilies image we have of Easter. But the phrase that captures my attention as I read it is this: with fear and joy they ran to tell the others. With fear and joy. Scared out of their wits, and afraid that what they saw is too good to be true, they nevertheless leave with fear and joy to tell others on the outside chance that it was true. We know something of fear; we know something of joy; but it is the “and” that we don’t always grasp. Fear AND joy. Notice in this story that is burdened with fear, that Jesus doesn’t take away their fear nor does he replace it with joy. In fact, he greets them in their fear before he invites them to be unafraid. It is the experienced power of fear and joy that send them on their way, excited about something new, something mysterious and unknown. We try to make sense of the mystery of resurrection because we think it will be the answer to death and pain. We accept without questioning that joy will be known only in the absence of fear. But even in their non-scientific world, the gospel writers knew that it didn’t work that way. Life AND death, peace AND chaos, joy AND fear are the realities of life. As people of faith .... we realize that the way the universe works has more to do with relationship than control. We are more co-creators with God than the objects of God’s good will or miraculous rescue. We are co-redeemers with God offering salvation from the power of fear to control by creating the joy of this divine order. We may want answers and solutions and miracles; what we are given is courage and faith and joy during the storm. (Source: Gary L. McCann The New England Church Pulpit ) Submitted and revised by C. Verbeek

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