Afraid, Yet Filled with Joy

On this Easter Sunday, how are you feeling?  Easter is the most joyous day of the year for me and I always look forward to a church filled with people singing “Alleluia, Christ is risen!”  But this year we are not in a church filled with people.  Instead, we are home with a multitude of broadcast options to watch for worship.  During our quarantine, I have watched a multitude of worship services.  The messages and the music varied, but all were done in empty sanctuaries with absent congregations.

The first Easter had an absent congregation as well.  The crowds that surrounded Jesus on Palm Sunday and that watched his execution, had gone home.  The disciples hid, afraid, in an upper room.  According to the gospel of Matthew, only Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see Jesus on Easter morning.  They were met by an angel, who gave the first Easter sermon.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”  Matthew 28:5-7

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary did just as the angel told them. “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”  Matthew 28:8.  Afraid, yet filled with joy – and – along the way – Jesus met them.  When they met Jesus, they fell at his feet and worshiped.

Today many of us are afraid.  Afraid for our jobs, afraid for our families, afraid of Covid-19.  But being afraid does not mean we cannot be full of joy.  Any day we can fall at the feet of Jesus and worship him is a day filled with joy.  Realizing that he calls us out of the tombs that bury us (or keep us “safe”) gives us a chance to be resurrected.

You may not be worshiping in a full sanctuary this Easter.  But know that, even in our isolation, even in our fear, we can be filled with the joy of Christ’s resurrection.  Because when he came back to life, he gave us the gift of new life in him.  Afraid, yet filled with joy, we fall at his feet and worship.

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!