A Reflection for the Easter Vigil, 2011
Saturday, April 23rd, 2011
Trinity Anglican Church, Bradford, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Matthew 28:1-10
At the tomb of Jesus, the women heard these words: “Do not be afraid.”
Oh, how there is much to frighten us in this life. We fear the unknown. We fear the future. We fear for our loved ones when they are out of sight. We fear death. Fear has a way of capturing us, laying hold of us, crippling us, enslaving us.
But this is the night the Jesus Christ breaks the chains of all enslavement, shatters the bonds of death, and delivers us from all fear. This is the night that Christ our God tramples down death by death. This is the night that stone of the tomb rolls away. This is the night when we are delivered from darkness into light, from death into life. This is the night in which fear is destroyed.
Early, as the third day dawned, two Marys went to the tomb of Jesus, and the earth shook, the stone was rolled away, and an angel of light appeared and proclaimed, “Fear not!” But they did fear, for they could see that the body of their Lord had been stolen. No. Not stolen, but gone. “I know what you are looking for,” said the angel, “Jesus of Nazareth. He is not here; he is risen, as he said!”
In one instant, in one moment, their fear disappeared, and as Christ himself had slipped the surly bonds of death, so too, did the women find the fetters of their fear loosed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, they knew themselves to be delivered from fear, to be ransomed from death.
With great excitement, they ran, their fear turning to joy, they ran to tell the other disciples that their Lord was alive. Without seeing him they believed. Yet with their minds intent on the task before them and their hearts strangely warmed, he appears before the women and greets them. And what are his first words? “Fear not.”
Can we hear these words enough as the troubles of life unfold before us? Thanks be to God that they are ever before us. Again and again we meet our Risen Lord on the road of this life, and again and again he comes to us with these words, “Fear not!” Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be afraid for I love you. Do not be afraid for I shall be with you to the ends of the earth and to the end of days.
When all seems lost, when fear seeks to grip us once again, when we are feeling enslaved to fear, when the stone seems too large to roll away on its own, listen; listen, and you will hear those words, “Fear not!” Behold, and watch, and you will see the stone rolled away; you will find the tomb empty, and you will meet your Risen Lord on the road yet again, who, ever and always, greets us with the words, “Do not be afraid.”
c. 2011, the Rev. Daniel F. Graves