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inside the Anglican Parish of the Otways church...
right here, every week except...
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Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
IN Matthew’s account of the resurrection it almost seems he is working at cross purposes.
On the one hand, the message delivered by the angels is clear, succinct, and compelling:
Do not be afraid;
At the same time, however,
Matthew also paints what is perhaps the most alarming and,
quite frankly, fear-inducing,
picture of the resurrection of the four gospel accounts.
First, there is the earthquake
And when the women arrive on scene,
an angel of the Lord descends and rolls back the stone. Moreover, the angel’s appearance isn’t just striking –
- but is actually terrifying.
Hence the guards at the tomb
immediately faint in terror.
No wonder these women are afraid.
And no wonder the angel therefore first speaks
words of comfort and courage.
Do not be afraid;
Of course, it doesn’t stop there,
after the fear, and after the words of courage,
comes a command:
Come, see the place where he lay.
And they do.
They come and see and then run and tell.
And Matthew describes their obedience as a mixture
of “fear and joy.”
I wonder, if that isn’t also our reality.
Don’t we live lives tinged by both fear and joy.
Fear of what may happen to our children in a dangerous world; joy at the blessing they are to us and,
we pray, they will be to the world.
Fear of whether we will have a job in the year to come;
joy at the colleagues that surround us.
Fear about the fate of a loved one struggling with illness;
joy in the gift that person has been to us.
Fear about the future amid problems both national and global;
joy in the present moment surrounded by those we love.
I think it’s striking that the announcement of resurrection
doesn’t take away all their fear.
Rather, it enables them to keep faith amid their fears,
to do their duty and share their good news
in spite of their anxiety.
This is the very definition of courage.
And, I would argue, courage is precisely what Easter is about.
For there is, indeed, much to fear in our mortal lives.
And yet the resurrection of Christ creates the possibility
for joy and hope and courage and so much more.
Why? Because it changes everything.
In the resurrection, you see,
we have God’s promise that life is stronger than death,
that love is greater than hate,
that mercy overcomes judgment,
and that all the sufferings and difficulties of this life
are transient –real and palpable and sometimes painful, for sure,
but they do not have the last word
and do not represent the final reality.
Fear and joy, despair and hope, doubt and faith,
these are the two sides of our lives in this world.
But in the end we have heard the resurrection promise
that of joy, hope and courage.
I pray you and all those you love
have a blessed Easter,
and that the joy of the Easter message
gives you daily courage for your life’s journey.
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.