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The Surprise of Easter: A message from Bishop Laurie Haller

By: Bishop Laurie Haller, interim bishop, Dakotas Conference

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Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Grace and peace to each one of you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On this Easter Day, I invite you to hear these words from the Gospel of Mark.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body.
 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to each other, ‘Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled. But he said to them, ‘Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. 7Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.’ Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”   Mark 16: 1-8 (CEB)

This is the Word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God!

Years ago, when our oldest child was a young teenager, she came down the stairs on Easter Sunday morning with hot pink hair. I was stunned, not realizing that this was just the beginning of a multi-year teenage journey. I’m still not sure what statement Sarah was trying to make, but I do remember cautioning myself, pick your battles carefully, Laurie. I replied something like this, “Nice hair, Sarah. It matches your Easter dress!”

The pink hair always reminds me that our daughter was at an age when she needed to burst out of the tomb of her childhood into adolescence and assert her independence, whether Gary and I were ready for it or not. Nothing was going to hold her back.

As people of faith, you and I are also continually learning and growing in our faith. The miracle of Easter is that it was not a one-time event. Yes, the tomb was empty, and, yes, Christ rose from the dead one Sunday morning two thousand years ago. Yet Easter comes every time you and I experience new life in Christ, are surprised by joy, or witness tragedy transformed into hope. 

The most important part of the resurrection story in Mark is the words of the young man in the robe to Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you. Mark 16: 7 (CEB)

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As Christ-followers, you and I have traveled together during Lent. We have also journeyed with Jesus through his teaching, healing, and proclamation. We have suffered and died with him. Now, “Made like him, like him we rise and go!”

Easter is one of those times when people are most open to hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. To whom will you go and invite to an Easter service? To whom will you go and share the good news? To whom will you go and witness to your faith?” It doesn’t even matter what color your hair is. Just go.

Let us pray. “Made like Him, like Him we rise. Alleluia. Ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Alleluia.” Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, UM Hymnal #302


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