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Reflections from the Pastor's Study …
Rev. Dr. Sharlyn DeHaven Gates
Resurrection … The Other Side
We finally made it! Our Lenten journey is complete for this time. We stayed on the pathway all the way to the cross, following Jesus, learning from him, observing his ways. We learned about love that has no boundaries as we listened in on the conversation with the Samaritan woman; as we observed Jesus -- the Son of God -- on his knees, washing the feet of his friends as a servant would do. We learned from Jesus that God loved the world full of sinners, so much that he sent him -- Jesus, his only Son -- so that we all would have salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life if we only believed in him. We witnessed the power and the compassion of Jesus the human and the divine as he raised his friend, Lazarus, from death to life. We followed along as Jesus rode into Jerusalem with people greeting him with palms waving and shouts of “Hosanna!” We took part in the supper he gave to us as a remembrance of his love and sacrifice for us. Each time we eat the broken bread and drink from the cup we do remember his body and his blood that was given so that we would have forgiveness and eternal life. We watched the horror of Jesus’ suffering and of his dying on the cross. We followed on the pathway to the tomb where they laid his lifeless body. We heard the final slamming of the stone rolled into place, and we felt the hopelessness and finality of death.
But on that morning, while it was still dark, we followed Mary Magdalene into the hush of the garden where she was shocked to find the stone rolled away. She ran back to tell the disciples and we soon saw Peter, and another disciple, racing to the tomb. First one, then the other look in. They see the body gone but the grave clothes lying there, neatly folded, which is amazing. If someone stole the body, why would they take the time to remove the grave clothes and to fold them? Perhaps they began then to remember what Jesus had told them about his rising from the dead. And they ran back to tell the rest of the group what they had seen.
But Mary stayed and cried. And we watched her grief and confusion turn from sorrow into astounding joy as she heard Jesus call her name and suddenly realized who he was.
And isn’t that what we too have learned on this pathway to the cross? That the Son of God, sent to redeem the world turns sorrow, sickness, sin and confusion into joy and wholeness and new life? Everywhere we went he transformed people’s lives and situations, not to mention their hearts and minds, from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from sorrow to joy, from death to life. All of those lessons are resurrection moments -- all along the pathway to the cross -- until Jesus himself took all the sin, all the despair, all the darkness unto himself where he died but then was raised to new life; where he conquered the threat of death forever and replaced it with eternal life.
Our key verse for Lent was from Psalm 25:4 that says “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” I pray that now that you are on the other side of the cross again, you will look back on the journey and know that Jesus has taught us great lessons about living and being on the paths he takes. And even more so, I pray that you sense that great transformation that he gives in this amazing gift of resurrection, redemption and everlasting life. Yes, even at the grave we make our song: “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Jesus told Mary to “go and tell …” Tell the disciples that he is alive. Tell everyone that he lives. Still today, we are asked to spread that great news.
He is alive! He is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia! Amen!
Peace and Grace,