Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY
I’m beginning to think that Mother Nature gets moody on Sunday mornings. Recently, the weather in Buffalo has been notably bad, particularly on the weekends. On Easter morning I had to scrape ice off my windshield and flurries fell during worship. Last week we had to salt our parking lot again. And this weekend meteorologists are calling for a historic ice storm. The dreariness, the cold, the wind, the ice, the snow, it is all really cramping my Easter style.
See, when I think of Easter I think of sun. I smell flowers. I imagine spring – new life bursting forth from barren ground, buds on branches, and birds sweetly singing. I associate Easter with joy and life, with laughter and lilies and bonnets and pastels. I connect Easter to dyed eggs, chocolate bunnies, and sponge candy. I don’t know what to do with these Easter shivers from Easter storms.
As I’ve read the different Easter stories from the gospels recently, I’ve been struck by how emotional and complicated they are. In Mark’s gospel the first witnesses to the resurrection were so terrified and confused they left the tomb in silence and did not say anything to anyone. In Matthew’s account there is an earthquake at the tomb, witnesses become like dead men, and the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body were “afraid, yet filled with joy.” In Luke’s gospel, when Jesus greets his disciples, they become startled and terrified. In John’s gospel, even after witnessing resurrection, his disciples still lock themselves away because of fear.
In scripture Easter is a stormy season. Hearts we might expect to be overflowing with joy are also filled with fear. Disciples we might expect to be active and excited, bunker down to weather the tumultuous times. The church we might expect to be filled with alleluias and the fragrance of lilies, has silent disciples and the aroma of ointment used to anoint the dead.
In that sense, these Easter storms we’ve experienced lately might not be contradicting the spirit of the season, but rather providing the perfect backdrop for new life to emerge. The joy of Easter is not that everything is suddenly perfect and put back together. Rather, the joy of Easter is that Jesus walks with us through the storm. Jesus brings new life after destruction and desolation. Jesus brings forgiveness to disciples who continue to fail.
Throughout this Easter season as we gather for worship there will be more Easter storms. Thanks be to God that Jesus greets us in the midst of our storm with a word of peace, grace, and hope. If you find yourself caught in a storm (actually, emotionally, vocationally, financially, physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.), I hope that you find Jesus at your side and that his presence with you gives you the strength to proclaim: He is risen, indeed. Alleluia.
In the Way,