My dear fellow disciples, Easter joy and blessing to each and all of you!
It happened. Just like He said. The tomb, symbol, and reality of death and endings became the doorway to life, new beginnings, and infinite possibility. Jesus’ appearance among His disciples on that first Easter evening was totally unexpected (though promised) and opened them to the deeper reality of God’s power exercised in love, deep love that sees beneath and beyond the temporary and every day. Consider, please, that first Resurrection gift; “Peace be with you,” Jesus says.
Though distant from that first Easter by two thousand years, as Christians we believe nothing in the power of Jesus’ gift of peace and new life has diminished over that time. Christ is present and unchangeable (“the same yesterday, today and forever,” as the author of Hebrews says), His gifts of peace, grace, faith, hope, and love are constant and life-changing. I pray you caught a glimpse of this in a way that lifted your spirit as you participated in worship on Easter Sunday.
This Easter message will come to you one week after the shooting on the subway and the attacks on two Sikh men in the community in which I spent the first twenty-two years of my life, Richmond Hill. Martin Luther tells us that, on the cross and in the Resurrection, God was in battle with “sin, death, and the devil” and robbing them of their ultimate power. God won! As those who believe and are called to live this Good News, we realize we’ve got work to do. While God won the decisive battle against those enemies and their many allies (violence, prejudice, hatred, fear, etc.), we as Easter people, as fellow Lutheran Christians of this beautiful synod, are baptized into participation in the ongoing holy work of birthing life and peace. Together. Claimed by God and called out of the tombs of our own and others’ creation, we are freed to live like Christ in our communities. This is the embodiment of our Easter proclamation.
I am grateful for you and for the opportunity to work and walk with you as your bishop. I know we have a blessed opportunity to make a difference for one another and the world God so loves and we are called to serve and transform. In Resurrection light! In defiance of all those forces opposed to God, who have already been defeated, we proclaim (Let me hear you!), “God is good!” And even at the grave, we make our song, “Alleluia!”
Truly, dear ones, peace be with you. And Happy Easter!
In the name of Jesus,
Bishop Paul Egensteiner