“We give you thanks for Jesus who, living among us, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and with a love stronger than death, gave his life for others……Remembering therefore, his life-giving death and glorious resurrection, we await your promised life for all this dying world.” The Eucharistic Prayer for Easter (With One Voice)
The world feels so needy to me right now. Pastoral conversations keep coming at me thick and fast as people face declining health, the need for extra help with finances, the failure of their hopes to materialize, and major and minor tragedies playing out on every side. I want the right answer to give people who face their deepest fears. I want to say something that will help them hang on to hope when hope seems silly. The world seems so broken that it hurts. And then I remember that if it seems broken to me, it must seem all the more broken to God, who sees all the pain, all the sorrow, all the injustice, all the need from every corner of the universe. I wonder sometimes if Jesus sees the pain of the world continuing and thinks, “I died so that this doesn’t have to happen any more.”
It is the love of God that we see in Jesus that is stronger than death. It is the power of love that changes the world. But how? We live in the new world Jesus brought about when he crushed the power of evil in his death and rose again in the power of love. And….And….And we still live in a world where suffering and injustice are all around us. The mystery of our faith pulls us forward into the world where evil no longer has any power over us, and Jesus’ victory over death is our assurance that we part of the new world he won for us. So even though we hurt when our hopes are dashed, our bodies are decaying, and our weakness is so evident, we trust that this is not the whole story. We accept the gift of life that Jesus resurrection brings us, we accept the forgiveness that Jesus’ death bestows on us, and we accept the gift of God’s steadfast love that never fails. And in accepting the life and forgiveness and love that has become ours, we live filled with the light of Christ, shining in a dark world. We ourselves become the signs of hope, we ourselves become the comfort, the healing, the wholeness that is God at work around us.
You may not think of yourself as being the sign of hope in the world, but you are. You have been saved for this: to be Jesus’ heart and hands in the world. And the power of love that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that gives you the word, the touch, the time, the action to make a difference. When the world feels so broken, it’s hard to remember that it is transformed and transforming by that love that is stronger than death. But we are called to be witnesses of that love, all the same. And I find that reminding someone else of that love reminds me that it is the power that I depend on when all else fails. This is the message of Easter, of Jesus risen from the dead and alive as the Body of Christ here in this place. Thanks be to God for the power of love and life.