...on that first Easter morning. We celebrate Easter as a great joyous occasion - with flowers and singing and trumpet fanfares - because we know what the resurrection means. But on that first Easter morning, there were no trumpets.
A seminary, covenant group friend's adult son died this week. It was tragic and unexpected. I've been asking myself - how do you preach Easter to a church who is coping with tragedy? My friend's church, churches where fire and tornadoes have struck in the last 3 days, churches in Italy where the earthquake death toll rises, in places of war? How do you preach Easter in places where joy has slipped away?
Here's what I've come up with. The first Easter morning was not a time of joy. There were no belly bumps and back slaps as the disciples discovered the tomb empty. So what did Easter morning bring to Mary and the other disciples? What did they find on Sunday morning that they didn't have the night before?
The answer is hope. What the resurrection gave the disciples that they didn't have in those dark hours following Jesus' death was hope. They were still bewildered and wondering what their future held. They still didn't understand what it all meant. But...they could begin to hope again. God had not forsaken them. Christ had overcome death and returned to strengthen them before the coming of the Spirit. Hope lived. Hope lives now.
Hope is the Easter message for folks who find themselves in places of despair.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.