AN EASTER MESSAGE FROM BISHOP GRAHAM
“In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” I Peter 3: 15-16 (NRSV)
This Holy Week and this Easter come to us in difficult, confusing times. What Jesus calls “wars and rumors of wars” fill the news. 1 How many times are they going to show us the night launch of the cruise missiles? Refugees and immigrants wander the world looking for the smallest welcome. Our country still feels divided and unsure of itself.
And in ways that most of us thought could never happen again, Christian people just like us are being targeted and killed for their faith. The Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt remind us that the “white robed martyrs” we sing about are not all just figures of history. 2
So if in these days we live in hope, it’s not because the world around us looks like a hopeful place. We live in hope because Jesus Christ died for all the people of this sad, beautiful world. We live in hope because Jesus was raised from the dead and because in his resurrection we see God’s intention for us, too.
We struggle to live in this world the kind of life that embodies what Jesus says about the kingdom of heaven. We let our hope have practical consequences. We look for ways to talk about what’s most important to us, and we do this with gentleness and reverence. We care for the people around us not because they’re useful to us, but because they are unique and irreplaceable children of God. We pray that God will help us not be driven by ours fears and anxieties.
“Hope does not disappoint us,” says Paul in Romans, “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” 3 Hope does not disappoint us because it doesn’t come from us in the first place. Hope comes from God’s love.
Walking with Jesus and with each other this week, we see again how deep God’s love really is. On Easter we learn all over again that even death is not stronger than God’s love. And this hope is given us for sharing.
1 – Matthew 24:6 and Mark 13:7
2 – “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship #414)
3 – Romans 5:5