My brothers and sisters in Christ, greetings in the wonderful name of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ! I am the Reverend Mark Christmas, Superintendent of the Methodist Churches in St Kitts and Chair of the St Kitts Christian Council.
Today, we hear again the words of the “angel of the Lord”, “He is not here, for he has been raised, as he said” (Matt. 28:6). As we look back at the words today, it is good news. Death has been conquered and Jesus is Lord! However, to hear those words did not really comfort to those who first heard them. As witnesses to the accompanying earthquake (nature), the rolling away of the stone by the angel of the Lord, and the reaction of the guards on duty, questions were reeling through their minds. “If he is not where they laid him, then where was he, where could he have gone?” “Was this the ultimate disappearing act?” “Did someone steal his body?” “How could they, why?” There staring at the women, and later the disciples, was an empty tomb but no Jesus. Their hopes, dreams and aspirations had died, were buried and now…gone? Buried they could deal with because it meant they could at least have some kind of memorial to remind them of their past. In fact, that is what the women came to deal with, the memorial of the past. Now they had news…good news?
“He is here, alleluia, he is here, amen.” These are the words of a song I learnt some years ago which assures us that the Risen Christ is present with us. Hence, what saves the women, and gives us hope, is the fact that Jesus shows up, suddenly. In the midst of the grief, confusion and memory lapse, Jesus shows up. In his appearing, the past, the tears, the disappointments, and the confusion disappear and the future lies open with endless possibilities. “He is not here” becomes “He is here”, not here in the deadness of the “what was”, but here in the living “what is” and “is to come”. In an ever-reaching effort to touch the risen Saviour we find that our lives could never be the same. Here is the reason for our celebration. Herein lies our hope. Joy is here at last and it comes in the morning.
Unfortunately, many only know of the festivities of a holiday weekend, many of which have nothing to do with the real reason for the weekend. Easter is a festival of the church and for the church. In the midst of drunken stupor and revelry, how do we really hear that Jesus is not there? Where do we suppose Jesus will show up suddenly in our lives? Would that be good news, for whom? What new thing do we believe the Risen Christ wants to do in our life? Further, some of us cling to the hurts and disappointments, in addition to the successes and accomplishments, of yesterday and yesteryear, how has the need to hold on to the former years and things in our homes, communities and churches, render us incapable of embracing the present reality of Jesus’ resurrected presence? May the Risen Christ open our eyes to see and our ears to hear him and our lips and lives to tell of his wondrous works to humanity!
My colleagues in the St Kitts Circuit and the Christian Council, along with our families, join me in praying for you the “here-ness’ and nearness of the Risen Christ! May God bless you and may God bless our Federation!