Scripture: John 20:1-18 (NRSV)
“Life is like Easter: a hard and hopeful time.” – Obed Dashan, Jos, Nigeria
The notification beeped on my computer and I was pleased to see that my friend and former seminary classmate from Nigeria was checking in. He currently serves as the General Secretary for the Church of Christ in Nigeria/Nations headquartered in Jos, Nigeria. When I casually asked him how he was doing, he responded, “Life is like Easter: a hard and hopeful time.” He went on to report that in churches throughout Nigeria violence against Christians and those accused of promoting “westernized education” is rampant. Bomb blasts, the abduction of 200 school girls, the killing of people of faith – all of this in the past week – Holy Week. Obed is convinced that if those committing the atrocities would encounter the risen Christ, they, like Paul on the road to Damascus, would turn from their violent ways and become agents of positive change. As followers of the way of Jesus they would “influence the world with the gospel of peace.” So he prays for his enemies and consistently encourages Christians throughout Nigeria and beyond to live as people of peace in the face of horrific violence. “What gives you hope?” I asked. And he reminded me of names of his three children, all of whom were born around the time we studied together: Fwangmun: The Spirit Sustains, Nanshelmun: God walks with us and Pankyes: In God we find peace.
Sometimes amidst the eggs and the lilies and the baby chicks we turn away from the pain and violence that is the context for the resurrection. This year, I will make a commitment to not turn away. I will still sing the Easter songs with gusto. I will still relish the time with family and the faith community, even more so realizing how often I take them for granted. But I will also stand with my brothers and sisters around the world as they cling to the power of Love made known in the resurrection of Jesus Christ – and boldly and hope-fully proclaim: the violence and the hatred will not win! Christ has risen! Hallelujah!
Thank you for journeying with us through reflections and stories during this season of Lent. We will be back online with Advent reflections beginning in late November 2014. Until then, live in hope. The power of Love WILL prevail.
Scripture: John 20:1-18 (NRSV)
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him. 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? She said to them, They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him. 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. 16Jesus said to her, Mary! She turned and said to him in Hebrew, Rabbouni! (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, I have seen the Lord; and she told them that he had said these things to her.