The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised.” Matthew 28:5-6a
Throughout scripture, when there is an encounter between the divine and humanity, we are told: do not be afraid. When Moses draws close to the burning bush. When Joshua goes up into the Promised Land. When Elijah stays true to God in front of an oppressive king. When David prays as his life is in danger. When Mary encounters the angel. When Jesus is transformed. When the women come to the tomb after Jesus’ death, they hear the command, do not be afraid. Yet, everyday there seems to be more or new things to be afraid of in our world. We all know that fear is a powerful motivator. Fear makes us do things, even good things, like make sure we look both ways before crossing the street. However, fear also makes us do things we would not normally do, makes us reactionary, can paralyze our creativity and take the joy out of life.
We know there is no magical solution. We can’t ignore fear or bury our heads in the sand or wear special colored glasses all the time. We are all too familiar with the uncertainty, pain, and fear of Good Friday. Our invitation is to acknowledge fear but hold onto the empty tomb. Hold on to hope. Hold on to love. Hold on to grace. Hold on to the risen Christ.
I know this is a lot of religious talk. Maybe our invitation would be the next time we feel anxious to calmly take a breath reminding ourselves we are loved. Or our invitation the next time we are frustrated by what we read in the newspaper, to take a moment in hopeful prayer as we know God is present in every situation. Our invitation could be that when we are fearful, we take a step in faith toward the resurrection rather than staying in the tomb. These actions are not easy, and we need each other to encourage, help, and hold each other accountable.
I pray that you have a great Easter. I pray that through worship, discipleship, community, and mission we all are reminded that God’s love, Christ’s resurrection, and the Holy Spirit’s work cast away any fear that comes our way or to our lives. Yes, we live in the tension between Good Friday and Easter, but we too hear the divine say, do not be afraid. We do not have to be afraid; Jesus has been raised and is not in the tomb anymore.