March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday: Christ Has Risen! Hope Endures!


By Gwen Gustafson-Zook, minister of worship
SCRIPTURE: Luke 24:1-12 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

The first weekend of the semester on an unseasonably warm and sunny January afternoon, I stood in a circle with students at a student leaders retreat. We were engaged in an intense game of “Ninja,” a game involving quick, deliberate movements. When my turn came around I quickly took a big step toward the student on my left. Unfortunately, the deck we were standing on was a bit slippery and I landed on the ground as the classic “pop” from my hamstring immobilized me in pain. I became very dependent on the students around me and on the grace of colleagues in that moment and over the next days and weeks of gradual recovery. The incident slowed me down, making me significantly more aware of pain; pain that we live with daily and pain that is a part of being human; pain that is superficial and pain that burrows to the core of our beings; pain that is physical and pain that is profoundly emotional; pain that we bring on ourselves and pain that is the result of injustice; pain that is personal and pain that ripples far beyond the initial point of trauma to effect the whole of communities, of countries and, indeed, of the world.

The story that we proclaim and are invited to live into each Easter is a story that begins with very deep pain, very profound suffering, cosmic despair. It is a story that calls us, like the women who accompany Jesus through the final days of his suffering, to be present to the anguish, the fear, the pain; to tenderly pour the oil, to bake the bread, to lovingly accompany, to hold one another, to weep and, yes, to prepare the spices and ointment – to do the very hard work of suffering together. But the story doesn’t stop with the pain-filled suffering. The empty tomb, while confounding initially, leaves us all with a glimmer of hope. Could it be that the pain and despair and loss and injustice do NOT have the last word? The good news of Jesus Christ is that our lives (and indeed the lives of all with whom we share this existence), in all their struggle and pain and brokenness and frailty, are framed by this profound, persistent and perplexing hope. Therefore, we carry on, with eyes wide open to signs of life beyond the suffering and pain. Christ has risen! Hope endures! Alleluia!


Thank you for joining us on this journey through Lent. Even as we have been enriched by taking time to reflect on these Scripture passages in light of our lives at Goshen College, we trust that you, too, have found in these reflections sustenance for your journey. Join us again for devotions when the season of Advent begins (unless you unsubscribe, they will automatically come to you when they begin again in late November 2013).

SCRIPTURE: Luke 24:1-12 (NRSV)
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.



Comments (12)

  1. We graciously thank you for the Lenten devotions which have helped and inspired us on our journey with Christ and our hope endures. We thank God for Jesus Christ His beloved son! God bless you all.

    Jack & Ann Snowden March 31, 2013 |
  2. Thank you, Gwen. With people like you to encourage us, we can keep on going, for we know that our lives are pointing in one direction – that of the Resurrection of Our dear Lord Jesus, and that every teardrop is weighted with a load of glory. Easter Blessings!
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet March 31, 2013 |
  3. One pain you did not mention. The pain of having shingles. Pain can be good but can also horrible. Thanks for the many good theoughts and lessons in these devotionals.

    Liz Lehman March 31, 2013 |
  4. What a wonderful experience this Lenten journey has been! Many of these devotions have shed new light and perspective on Scriptures I have known all my life. I am deeply grateful.

    Dave March 31, 2013 |
  5. Thank you so much for the devotions,,,they were a blessing and greatly apprciated.

    Beth N. Powell March 31, 2013 |
  6. Thank you to each and every person who lovingly shared their personal journey and thoughts via these devotions. They have been a great blessing. Easter joy

    Chris C March 31, 2013 |
  7. Thank you for these meaningful Lenten devotions! I look forward to the next group of Advent devotions–and I send my gratitude for your outreach through thoughtful scriptural reflections!

    Bonnie March 31, 2013 |
  8. Thanks Goshen College for Lenton encouragement!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bob March 31, 2013 |
  9. Thanks to all the contributors. By the way, perhaps the effort should be carried forward for all of the Easter season?

    Norm Morford April 1, 2013 |
  10. Thanks for all of these Lenten reflections. Thanks especially to Gwen for the final post. All of these posts have been thoughtful, stimulating and personal. Thanks again.

    Anne April 1, 2013 |
  11. Wonderfully meaningful and fitting climax to the Lenten season in these last two devotionals. Thank you!

    Lois Martin April 1, 2013 |
  12. Thank you for the Lenten reflections. They have been a source of great encouragement and blessing to me. Thanks especially to Gwen for the final post. I had been in an accident in February and following this, I was hurt deeply emotionally. The pain was both physical and emotional and this devotion came at the right time. It is as if it was written especially for me to remind me of the glorious hope that we have in our Lord, Jesus Christ! By the way, I am writing from South Asia Institute for Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in Bangalore, India. About 3 or 4 of us get your devotions and are blessed by them. Thanks to all the contributors and to Goshen College.

    Mary Kumuda Sujay Kumar April 18, 2013 |