Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)! By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
1 Peter 1: 3
(Written by the Apostle Peter)
“And The Glory”
The One Star lights the world,
The lily springs to life and not even
Solomon…('Yet, I tell you, even
Solomon in all his magnificence and
excellence was not arrayed like one
of these" Matthew 6: 29).
Let it begin with singing
and never end!
Oh, angels quit your lamenting!
upon your knees in tearful prayer,
rise up and take your hearts and run!
We who were no people are named anew
for He who was no more
Kneeling in Jerusalem
Today’s Study Text:
“Now, get on your way quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead’”
Matthew 28: 7
The Message Bible
“He is Risen” Part 1
“The resurrection of Jesus announces that true life is available to, and the right of, all human beings; it is not something reserved for a few, or something that we await to happen in the ‘last day’: it is something we already live now. It is not compensation for the miseries of life, but a continuation of an earthly existence lived out according to God’s will and purpose for humanity.”
What does the “empty tomb” mean to me each day?
If I had been in the place of Jesus’ followers, how do I think I would have felt looking at a grave with a stone rolled in front of it and a seal placed on the stone along with Roman guards surrounding the grave, making certain Jesus stayed in the tomb?
“Easter is not a part of the old accustomed divine order, of the ordered world in which we live, but it is an absolutely new, unexpected act of the living God, which interrupts and runs counter to the uniform rise and fall of the world’s rhythm. Here we have the beginning of something new.”
“Come all the faithful, let us worship…for through the Cross, joy has come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we sing His Resurrection, for having endured the Cross for us, He has destroyed death by death.”
Oxford Prayer Book
It’s the day after Easter. The retail stores are packing up any left over pastel-colored eggs and the Easter Bunny will be put into hibernation for another year. And as for Christians who are on their church decorating committee, the gorgeous white lilies may be left on the podium for another week but the choral songs of worship which reflect on the risen Christ will be neatly laid in a closet ready for next year’s uplifting renditions of favorites like, “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today.”
Isn’t this what we do routinely with most holiday celebrations? When the date is past, we move on. If we don’t time will get away from us. However, with your indulgence, I’d like to take some time, a few more weeks in fact, to linger at an empty tomb and to walk with Jesus’ followers as they absorb the fact that the tomb they once knew held their Beloved Jesus now sits empty. Without giving away all the details found in the stories of what happened after Jesus’ resurrection, let me just say that as I’ve studied the past few months, I realized without a doubt that Jesus’ involvement in the lives of followers went into overdrive when He arose from “that” tomb. What I’ve too frequently done is rejoice at the empty tomb, as we all should, but then I’ve just gotten on with life and what a mistake that has been for Jesus’ resurrection ushered in a new way of looking at life…even down to the way I handle the challenges I happen to face on a daily basis. And it is this fact that I want to look at in the coming days!
As I have read historical accounts about life at the time of Jesus walked this earth, what I’ve found so interesting is that there were many zealots claiming to be Israel’s Messiah. These individuals were fervent in their claims that they would work with all their might to release the bonds of Rome that bound the people in a world of poverty and pain.
What made Jesus’ life so different, so unique, so heavenly was that this “servant king” came, as the prophet Isaiah shares, “with a government of peace…to uphold justice” (Isaiah 9: 6, 7, Amplified Bible). The fact is that what the people at the time of Jesus wanted was not much different than what people today want – release from oppression, from what ever power they may perceive limits their ability to have the “things” they believe will make their lives more satisfying.
What we find as we walk with Jesus is that the life He called His followers to was not filled with the things of this world. Instead, Jesus introduced His children to a “New Reality” as Paul Tillich calls Jesus transformative ministry. “Salvation does not destroy creation; but it transforms the Old Creation into a New one. Therefore we can speak of the ’New’ in terms of re-newal: The threefold ‘re,’ namely, re-conciliation, re-union, re-surrection…this is the New Creation, the New Being, the New State of things.” This is the transforming story which comes from an empty tomb. No message down through time carries such transformative change with it. And no message carries so much hope.
The blind hymn-writer Fanny Crosby, in one of her most famous songs “Tell Me The Story of Jesus,” ends with these touching words:
“Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.”
He lives again. This is the story the followers of Jesus have passed down through time. The tomb is empty for Christ is alive. This is your story and mine – a story we carry in our hearts. No matter what you may face in your life today, it is the beam of light shining down through time which illuminates your way and mine. This light radiates through an empty grave and bears the message of hope to us today: “He Is Risen!” In the words of John S. Dunne, “When hope does awaken, an entire life awakens along with it. One comes fully to life. It begins to seem indeed that one has never lived before. One awakens to a life that is eternal in prospect, a life that opens up before one all the way to death and beyond, a life that seems able to endure death and survive it. Wherever hope rises life rises.” May you and I praise God for the empty tomb…and the story it tells for “He Is Risen!”
“Baptized By the Morning”
"Risen Lord Jesus,
as the rising sun
baptizes trees and shrubs
in rippling light, let me be baptized
by Your resurrection light.
May I trust in You above all other goals,
seek You in all things,
find You in every situation,
meet You among all people,
know You over everything -
and love You with adoration
beyond all telling."
"Christ our life,
You are alive - in the beauty of the earth
in the rhythm of the seasons
in the mystery of time and space
Christ our life,
You are alive - in the tenderness of touch
in the heartbeat of intimacy
in the insights of solitude
Christ our life,
You are alive - in the creative possibility
of the dullest conversation
of the dreariest task
the most threatening event
Christ our life,
You are alive - to offer re-creation
to every unhealed hurt
to every deadened place
to every damaged heart
You set before us a great choice.
Therefore we choose life.
The dance of resurrection soars and
surges through the whole creation,
This is grace, dying we live.
So let us live."
“Who is there to condemn us? Will Christ Jesus the Messiah, Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for you and me? Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?...Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.”
Romans 8: 34-35,37
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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