With these words we welcome the Easter dawn and the celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death.
But we must also back up a couple of days to Good Friday to understand what a game-changer the resurrection is. In the crucifixion of Jesus, all the power of evil is thrust upon the Innocent One who stands condemned. Hate rears its monstrous head demanding the death of Jesus. Violence is unleashed and drives the nails into his hands, spikes into his feet and eventually a sword into his side. Here at the cross the world at its worst hurls itself against the Son of God, the Messiah, its redeemer, and as the darkness of evil falls like a death shroud over the earth, Jesus, crucified, cries out and gives up his spirit. In that moment, all creation appears to be taken captive by Evil victorious.
Terrible, devastating, and catastrophic barely convey the horror of Evil unrestrained, released to poison, wound, corrupt and destroy. The images of bodies piled up outside the gas chambers of the holocaust, or rivers running red with blood in Rwanda, or the Twin Towers crumbling in slow moving horror, or Emmett Teal’s ravaged body lying in a casket, or Matthew Shepard tied to a fence–tortured and left to die, or one year old Baylee Almon limp with death in the arms of a fireman at the mutilated Murrow Federal Building: all of these horrors can only hint at the terror of Death triumphant reigning forever with no Easter, no resurrection to restrain its frightful hand.
That is what is at stake in the closing events of Holy Week.
We joyfully greet Christ’s resurrection on Easter morn for it breaks the power of Death and dethrones it from its terrifying power over us, and creation. We rejoice and cry aloud as captives do when liberation comes, for Christ has set us free. Now, through Christ, life reigns victorious. New images fill our imagination – images of deserts blooming and earth rejoicing, of Hutu and Tutsi embracing, of swords beaten into plowshares, of the poor filled with good things, of justice and peace flowing in life-giving streams through every city, town and village, of new creation being born. Resurrection! Life!
The resurrection life offered in Christ leaves no room for hate. Hate of every sort and in every form, whether it be anti-Semitism, racism, or hatred toward the gay community, has no place in those who have embraced new life in Christ. The way of life in Christ is through the pathway of love–love which leads through Calvary to the empty tomb of the risen Lord Jesus who forever triumphs over sin and death, over enmity and violence, over hatred and destruction. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Co 15:57 NRS)
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
All the angels … fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might
be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.” (Rev 7:9 RSV)