Happy Easter!! What a wonderful way to begin my note to you. This is a time of celebration, a time when we are reminded of the goodness and graciousness of God, a time when new life is literally making itself known in our yards and gardens. This is a time to celebrate. It is also a time to remember. A time to tell our stories of resurrection and new life.
In recent years, Zion has seen an influx of new members, new faces, new friends. Some are faces that were common in years past, others are new. But, a new community, a new life is springing up in the heart of Steubenville.
Some of our new faces had been told they were going to hell because they were gay. Others have pulled themselves out of the abyss of addiction. Others have gone through other times of trauma and disillusionment. They all should have been in the tomb; indeed, they knew how cold and silent the tomb could be. But they aren’t in the tomb any more. The stone has been rolled away and they've been raised to new life. They know that Jesus rose from the dead because they, too, have risen. Resurrection isn’t an abstract belief to them; they have experienced it. And they know resurrection is going to happen to everyone who walks through the church doors––not just that it was possible, that resurrection was inevitable––because that was their experience of God.
We have come to the church, because it provides something nothing else does - resurrection. We need to be part of a community that proclaims that story every week through its music and words and actions. The church reminds us, on those days when the cold stone of the tomb is close around, that God always, always, always triumphs over death. And the church doesn’t let us get complacent about that Easter triumph; it lets the story of resurrection sink deep into our bones, then it pushes us out the door to share that story with others who are as hurting and lost as we once were. We keep going to church because Christians are at heart a resurrection people, and we want to be one, too.
Whatever brought you to church, whether you are here every Sunday or just every once in a while, your presence brings you into that central story of resurrection. Perhaps at some time in your life you have found yourself in the cold, silent tomb. Maybe you are waiting for the stone to be rolled away and you or someone you love to be raised to new life. Perhaps you have emerged from the tomb and are standing among the graves, eyes watering as you adjust to the sunlight, wondering what happens now that you have received new life. Wherever you are, whatever brought you here, the story of resurrection belongs to you. It is your story, my story, our story of God at work in our lives. It makes us a resurrection people, proclaiming new life to all those who lie in the tombs of this world.
The Lord is risen indeed; we are risen with him. So, whether it’s a regular part of your life or just one day a year, I hope you will join with the church in crying out, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
With the Greatest of Hope!