Jesus Christ is risen, Alleluia!

| Father John Paul Erickson | April 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

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Truly he is risen, alleluia!

Without the experience of death, the true mystery of Easter is inaccessible. It is only by entering the tomb ourselves — the tombs of loss, the tombs of disappointment, the tombs of humiliation, the tombs of isolation — that the full splendor of this eternal day is fully revealed.

For it is only there, in the darkness of the night, that the strong and steady flame of the Resurrection is seen with the eyes of faith. For the sleek and the strong, the mighty and the powerful, there is nothing to see. But for those who have been wounded by love and made little through helplessness and surrender, this is a feast of victory, a feast that begins in the dim dawn of glory shining through a glass darkly, but in the world to come will be a raging furnace that will illuminate all secrets.

In these historic days, many have entered the tomb. I am not speaking here of sheltering in place, though that certainly brings its own challenges. Rather, I speak of those who have lost their livelihoods. I speak of those who have been unable to visit elderly parents and loved ones. I speak of those who have scrambled to the point of exhaustion to provide their children with a learning environment while also working from home. I speak of those who suffer from anxiety and fear and who worry about the future. I speak of those who have not gathered in the consecrated walls of their beloved parish for weeks and who mourn the physical absence of those they love.

Into all of these tombs, and the thousands of other deaths, great and small, that so many have endured since Lent began, on this great day the Lord of heaven and earth proclaims the good news that is his Person, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age!”

This assurance of the Lord’s presence in the midst of crushing circumstance is not the prayer that many of us would naturally make. Our prayer is much more often, and quite understandably, “Please Lord, make it stop.” But rather than removing our suffering, so often the Lord uses it precisely to draw us closer to him. This is not an easy truth. But I think it’s the Gospel. Only in loss do we learn how to cherish what we have. Only in shame and in sorrow do we learn how to forgive. Only in the face of death do we learn how to live, to speak and to love. Only in the tomb is the Resurrection discovered.

But Easter is much more than a metaphor for the principle of growth through challenge, like the phoenix of ancient Greece. Rather, the Resurrected One reveals to us the life-giving though bleeding heart of the Christian way, the narrow gate of holiness: Surrender to the will of a loving Father. The saving fiat of Jesus in the garden and of Mary in Bethlehem.

This surrender is not fatalism nor stoicism. It is rather the ultimate assent of faith: I believe that I am loved and willed into being by a Father who did not spare his only begotten Son so that I, sinner though I am, may live forever.

The alleluias of Easter are not cheap. They require death to self and entering the dark tomb of loss. But this sobering path is the only way home to the mansions of the Father, where plagues and bewilderment and burials are no more. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.

A blessed Easter to all.

Father Erickson is pastor of Transfiguration in Oakdale. He can be reached at frerickson@transfigurationmn.org.


Sunday, April 12
Easter Sunday, Resurrection of the Lord

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Category: Featured, Sunday Scriptures