The Risen Lord brings dignity and worth to life
The 2013 Easter message from the Rev. Dr Keith Garner, Superintendent, Wesley Mission
Bushfires, storms and floods: it seems the weather will not release its stranglehold on our lives.
Each time we turn on our televisions, we seem to be witnessing yet another disaster. Some parts of our nation continue to face such trials year after year and, while resilience grows, it is hard for some communities not to be resigned to an underlying sorrow.
These things have made me think more deeply about trauma, which can significantly impact a person’s overall health and wellbeing. The effects of a natural disaster can be long lasting. There’s a deep sense of loss.
People suffering injuries are affected directly, but there are also those who are impacted indirectly: those who have witnessed the events firsthand or on television.
Additionally rescue workers, emergency and medical personnel, counsellors, relief work volunteers, chaplains, friends and relatives of victims can be impacted. It’s the same kind of impact that so many of our people experience when they see someone caught in the cycle of homelessness or vainly struggling to survive in our community.
The loss of a family member or friend can leave enduring pain. Our emotions can run from dismay and bewilderment to anger and frustration.
For me, Easter is not a time to avoid the difficult questions or ignore them or alienate them by suggesting that pain and sorrow are not really important to God. The good news is that the Easter story speaks to us today – even in our pain and confusion. New life can come to us even in the darkest moments.
Our world is beset by huge challenges. Suffering on a grand scale exists in so many places and we do well to remind ourselves that the story of Easter recognises both the depth of pain and the perplexity it brings to us.
Jesus’ closest friends and followers were bewildered, confused and sad following his crucifixion, death and burial.
And so it was with Mary when she went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to tend to Jesus’ body.
Mary found the tomb empty. Jesus was not only her Lord, but her friend.
Jesus had brought new meaning to Mary’s life but the pain of bereavement was strong in that moment. Even in the midst of the signs and evidence of life – the empty tomb, the folded graveclothes, and the presence of angels – Mary continued to weep.
I don’t find myself surprised, for Mary is at a place of emotional pain. Her tears are not difficult to understand – they speak to us about the finality of death. And while the death of Jesus was in itself distressing and unnerving, Mary’s pain is compounded by the apparent disappearance of his body.
Yet in the midst of this pain and loss, the Risen Lord calls Mary by her name. She turns around and finds Jesus standing there, yet initially doesn’t recognise him through her tears. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Each day Wesley Mission cares for the broken-hearted, the lonely and distressed. I can think of countless people, like Mary, who are dealing with tremendous loss and are looking for answers to the complexities and pain of life.
The Risen Lord brings dignity and worth to life and stands by the rejected and the hurt. It is possible for all to find God’s strength and peace.
The cross, the empty tomb and the resurrection speak with clarity about God’s love for each of us and of firm hope beyond the pain of this world. He also understands our grief and reaches out to us with great love and compassion in the here and now. His presence is near.
This Easter may you know and experience the real, life-changing love of Jesus Christ.