Fear and great joy

I’m sorry it has been a few days since I posted.  Holy Week has been very busy on all fronts.  I try to keep Holy Saturday as a quiet day at home, but today has brought a host of errands – photocopying extra liturgy booklets, buying wine, doing laundry, etc.  I also find it hard to know what to say on Easter.  Perhaps the Orthodox have the right idea by mandating the same ancient homily (attributed to St John Chrysostom) year after year – and an awfully good homily it is, if you have never heard it.  I’m giving it to the attendees at the Free Communion Service, on a hand-out to take home, and will post it here.

The LCC lectionary gives us the visit of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to the tomb, from Matthew 28.  The angel, with a countenance like lightning and a raiment white as snow, tells the women not to fear.  One has to wonder if the angel had a sense of humor, as not fearing doesn’t seem very likely under the circumstances!  And, sure enough, when the women depart, they do so with fear and great joy.  Easter is a time of joy.  But, if we are honest with ourselves, it can also be a time of fear and confusion.  What is this power of God which brings resurrection?  Hell might tremble before it, but so might we!   What does this mean, for Jesus and for us?

The epistle reading (from I Corinthians 15) tells us that, like seeds of God planted in this earth, we die in order to quicken and grow.  We are sown in weakness yet raised in power.  What does it mean for this mortal to put on immortality?  Before this, we can only stand in silence, our hands clasped over our mouths, filled with both fear and great joy in the presence of the Easter Mystery.

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life!

A blessed Easter to each of you,
John

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